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HUMAN    PERSONALITY 

AND  ITS  SURVIVAL  OF 
BODILY  DEATH 


BY 

FREDERIC   W.  H.  MYERS 

EDITED  AND  ABRIDGED 
BY   HIS    SON 

LEOPOLD  HAMILTON  MYERS 


Cessas  in  vota  precesque, 
Tros,  ait,  Aenea,  cessas  ?    Neque  enim  ante  dehiscent 
Adtonita  magna  ora  domus.  —  Virgil. 

''Nay  I"  quoth  the  Sybil,  "Trojan  1  wilt  thou  spare 
The  impassioned  effort  and  the  conquering  prayer  ? 
Nay !  not  save  thus  those  doors  shall  open  roll,  — 
That  Power  within  them  burst  upon  the  soul?' 


LONGMANS,   GREEN,   AND   CO 

91  AND  93  FIFTH  AVENUE,  NEW  YORK 

LONDON  AND   BOMBAY 

1907 


Copyright,  1906,  by 

LONGMANS,  GREEN,  AND  CO. 

All  rights  reserved. 


U$KW*f  CONGRESS 

lwt-Oom<*  Received 

:       A 

jan  2  no;  ■ 

i\A%%    a-*    AXC  No- 
COPY    /*. 

The  Plimpton  Press  Norwood  Mass.  U.S.A. 


\ 


-. 


DEDICATED 

TO 

HENRY    SIDGWICK 

AND 

EDMUND    GURNEY 


CONTENTS 


PAGE 

EDITOR'S  NOTE vii 

PREFACE ix 

GLOSSARY     .  ,  xiii 

CHAP. 

I.  INTRODUCTION I 

II.  DISINTEGRATIONS  OF  PERSONALITY  ....       26 

III.  GENIUS       .         .         . -55 

IV.  SLEEP 93 

V.   HYPNOTISM 116 

VI.   SENSORY  AUTOMATISM 168 

VII.   PHANTASMS  OF  THE  DEAD 212 

VIII.   MOTOR  AUTOMATISM  .         .         .         .         .         .         .254 

IX.  TRANCE,  POSSESSION,  AND  ECSTASY  ....     297 

X.  EPILOGUE ..     .         .         .         .340 

APPENDICES  TO  CHAPTER  II .         .356 

APPENDICES  TO  CHAPTER  IV 364 

APPENDICES  TO  CHAPTER  V 378 

APPENDICES  TO  CHAPTER  VI .384 

APPENDICES  TO  CHAPTER  VII  .         .         .  '      .         .         .         .400 

APPENDICES  TO  CHAPTER  VIII        .......     430 

APPENDICES  TO  CHAPTER  IX 441 

INDEX 453 

v 


EDITOR'S  NOTE 

Nearly  four  years  have  elapsed  since  the  first  appearance  of  my 
Father's  book  "  Human  Personality  and  its  Survival  of  Bodily  Death." 
It  cost  two  guineas  and  was  published  in  two  volumes,  each  of  which  was 
little  under  700  pages  in  length. 

The  price  and  dimensions  of  such  a  work  made  the  future  issue  of  a 
more  popular  edition  not  improbable.  Indeed,  my  Father  himself  indi- 
cated briefly  the  lines  on  which  an  abridgment  could  best  be  made.  In 
accordance  with  his  indications  I  have  endeavoured  to  keep  as  closely  as 
possible  to  the  original  scheme  and  construction  of  the  book. 

The  task  of  abridging,  however,  must  always  be  an  ungrateful  one. 
It  is  inevitable  that  somewhere  or  other  I  should  disappoint  the  reader 
who,  already  acquainted  with  the  unabridged  edition,  finds  some  admired 
passage  curtailed  in  favour  of  others  that  are  to  him  of  secondary  interest. 
This  I  cannot  avoid.  All  I  can  hope  to  do  is  so  to  reconcile  the  prin- 
ciples of  omission  and  condensation  as  least  to  do  violence  to  the  style 
while  preserving  as  far  as  possible  the  completeness  of  the  exposition. 

One  half  of  each  volume  in  the  unabridged  edition  consists  of  appen- 
dices containing  examples  of  the  various  kinds  of  phenomena  discussed 
and  analyzed  in  the  text.  It  has  been  possible  to  reduce  considerably 
the  number  of  these  cases  without,  I  think,  detracting  much  from  the  value 
of  the  work  for  the  purposes  of  the  ordinary  reader.  Those  cases,  how- 
ever, which  are  included  in  this  edition  are  quoted  in  full,  an  abridged 
version  having  very  little  value. 

It  must  be  remembered  that  the  author  in  his  preface  insists  that  "the 
book  is  an  exposition  rather  than  a  proof,"  and  the  remark  naturally 
applies  with  even  greater  force  to  this  abridgment.  Here  the  cases  must 
be  regarded  simply  as  illustrative  of  the  different  types  of  the  evidence 
upon  which  in  its  entirety  the  argument  of  the  book  ultimately  rests. 

The  reader  who  may  feel  disposed  to  study  this  evidence  will  find 
numerous  references  given  in  the  foot-notes.  The  cases,  however,  to 
which  he  is  thus  referred  are  scattered  in  many  different  publications, 
some  of  which  will  probably  be  less  easy  of  access  than  the  unabridged 
edition,    In  the  many  instances,  therefore,  where  a  case  is  quoted  in  the 

vii 


viii  EDITOR'S   NOTE 

latter  its  place  therein  is  indicated  by  means  of  a  number  or  a  number 
and  letter  in  square  brackets,  thus  [434  A]:  these  being  in  accordance 
with  the  plan  of  arrangement  observed  in  the  larger  book. 

I  wish  to  express  my  sincere  thanks  to  Miss  Alice  Johnson,  who  very 
kindly  read  over  the  whole  of  the  proof  of  this  abridgment.  I  have 
profited  largely  by  her  advice  as  well  as  from  that  given  me  by  Miss 
Jane  Barlow,  to  whom  my  thanks  are  also  due.  L.  H.  M. 


PREFACE 

[This  unfinished  preface  consists  of  several  passages  written  at  different  times 
by  the  author,  who  died  on  January  17th,  1901.  In  1896  he  arranged  that  the  com- 
pletion of  his  book  should  be  in  the  hands  of  Dr.  Richard  Hodgson  in  case  of  his 
death  before  its  publication.  In  the  meantime  he  had  entrusted  the  general  super- 
vision of  the  press  work  and  much  of  the  detail  in  marshalling  the  Appendices  to 
Miss  Alice  Johnson  (now  Secretary  of  the  Society  for  Psychical  Research) ,  who  was 
therefore  associated  with  Dr.  Hodgson  also  in  the  editorial  work  needed  for  the  com- 
pletion of  the  book,  and  much  the  greater  part  of  the  labour  involved  fell  to  her  share.] 

The  book  which  is  now  at  last  given  to  the  world  is  but  a  partial  pres- 
entation of  an  ever-growing  subject  which  I  have  long  hoped  to  become 
able  to  treat  in  more  adequate  fashion.  But  as  knowledge  increases  life 
rolls  by,  and  I  have  thought  it  well  to  bring  out  while  I  can  even  this  most 
imperfect  text-book  to  a  branch  of  research  whose  novelty  and  strangeness 
call  urgently  for  some  provisional  systematisation,  which,  by  suggesting 
fresh  inquiries  and  producing  further  accumulation  of  evidence,  may  tend 
as  speedily  as  possible  to  its  own  supersession.  Few  critics  of  this  book 
can,  I  think,  be  more  fully  conscious  than  its  author  of  its  defects  and 
its  lacunae;  but  also  few  critics,  I  think,  have  yet  realised  the  importance 
of  the  new  facts  which  in  some  fashion  the  book  does  actually  present. 

Many  of  these  facts  have  already  appeared  in  Phantasms  0}  the  Living  ; 
many  more  in  the  Proceedings  of  the  Society  for  Psychical  Research; 
but  they  are  far  indeed  from  having  yet  entered  into  the  scientific 
consciousness  of  the  age.  In  future  years  the  wonder,  I  think,  will  be 
that  their  announcement  was  so  largely  left  to  a  writer  with  leisure 
so  scanty,  and  with  scientific  equipment  so  incomplete. 

Whatever  value  this  book  may  possess  is  in  great  measure  due  to  other 
minds  than  its  actual  author's.  Its  very  existence,  in  the  first  place, 
probably  depends  upon  the  existence  of  the  two  beloved  friends  and 
invaluable  coadjutors  to  whose  memory  I  dedicate  it  now. 

The  help  derived  from  these  departed  colleagues,  Henry  Sidgwick 


x  PREFACE 

and  Edmund  Gurney,  although  of  a  kind  and  quantity  absolutely  essential 
to  the  existence  of  this  work,  is  not  easy  to  define  in  all  its  fulness  under 
the  changed  circumstances  of  to-day.  There  was  indeed  much  which  is 
measurable;  —  much  of  revision  of  previous  work  of  my  own,  of  col- 
laborative experiments,  of  original  thought  and  discovery.  Large  quota- 
tions purposely  introduced  from  Edmund  Gurney  indicate,  although 
imperfectly,  how  closely  interwoven  our  work  on  all  these  subjects 
continued  to  be  until  his  death.  But  the  benefit  which  I  drew  from  the 
association  went  deeper  still.  The  conditions  under  which  this  inquiry  was 
undertaken  were  such  as  to  emphasise  the  need  of  some  intimate  moral 
support.  A  recluse,  perhaps,  or  an  eccentric,  —  or  a  man  living  mainly 
with  his  intellectual  inferiors,  may  find  it  easy  to  work  steadily  and  con- 
fidently at  a  task  which  he  knows  that  the  bulk  of  educated  men  will 
ignore  or  despise.  But  this  is  more  difficult  for  a  man  who  feels  manifold 
links  with  his  kind,  a  man  whose  desire  it  is  to  live  among  minds  equal 
or  superior  to  his  own.  It  is  hard,  I  say,  for  such  a  man  to  disregard 
altogether  the  expressed  or  implied  disapproval  of  those  groups  of  weighty 
personages  to  whom  in  other  matters  he  is  accustomed  to  look  up. 

I  need  not  say  that  the  attitude  of  the  scientific  world  —  of  all  the 
intellectual  world  —  then  was  very  much  more  marked  than  now.  Even 
now  I  write  in  full  consciousness  of  the  low  value  commonly  attached  to 
inquiries  of  the  kind  which  I  pursue.  Even  now  a  book  on  such  a  subject 
must  still  expect  to  evoke,  not  only  legitimate  criticism  of  many  kinds, 
but  also  much  of  that  disgust  and  resentment  which  novelty  and  hetero- 
doxy naturally  excite.  But  I  have  no  wish  to  exalt  into  a  deed  of  daring 
an  enterprise  which  to  the  next  generation  must  seem  the  most  obvious 
thing  in  the  world.  Nihil  ausi  nisi  vana  contemnere  will  certainly  be  the 
highest  compliment  which  what  seemed  to  us  our  bold  independence  of 
men  will  receive.  Yet  gratitude  bids  me  to  say  that  however  I  might  in 
the  privacy  of  my  own  bosom  have  'dared  to  contemn  things  contempt- 
ible,' I  should  never  have  ventured  my  amateurish  acquirements  on  a 
publication  of  this  scale  were  it  not  for  that  slow  growth  of  confidence 
which  my  respect  for  the  judgment  of  these  two  friends  inspired.  Their 
countenance  and  fellowship,  which  at  once  transformed  my  own  share  in 


PREFACE  xi 

the  work  into  a  delight,  has  made  its  presentation  to  the  world  appear 
as  a  duty. 

My  thanks  are  due  also  to  another  colleague  who  has  passed  away, 
my  brother,  Dr.  A.  T.  Myers,  F.R.C.P.,  who  helped  me  for  many  years 
in  all  medical  points  arising  in  the  work. 

To  the  original  furnishers  of  the  evidence  my  obligations  are  great 
and  manifest,  and  to  the  Council  of  the  S.P.R.  I  also  owe  thanks  for  per- 
mission to  use  that  evidence  freely.  But  I  must  leave  it  to  the  book  itself 
to  indicate  in  fuller  detail  how  much  is  owing  to  how  many  men  and 
women:  —  how  widely  diffused  are  the  work  and  the  interest  which  have 
found  in  this  book  their  temporary  outcome  and  exposition. 

The  book,  indeed,  is  an  exposition  rather  than  a  proof.  I  cannot 
summarise  within  my  modest  limits  the  mass  of  evidence  already  gath- 
ered together  in  the  sixteen  volumes  of  Proceedings  and  the  nine  volumes 
of  the  Journal  of  the  S.P.R.,  in  Phantasms  of  the  Living  and  other  books 
hereafter  referred  to,  and  in  MS.  collections.  The  attempt  indeed  would 
be  quite  out  of  place.  This  branch  of  knowledge,  like  others,  must  be 
studied  carefully  and  in  detail  by  those  who  care  to  understand  or  to 
advance  it. 

What  I  have  tried  to  do  here  is  to  render  that  knowledge  more  assim- 
ilable by  co-ordinating  it  in  a  form  as  clear  and  intelligible  as  my  own 
limited  skill  and  the  nature  of  the  facts  themselves  have  permitted.  I 
have  tried  to  give,  in  text  and  in  Appendices,  enough  of  actual  evidence 
to  illustrate  each  step  in  my  argument:  —  and  I  have  constantly  referred 
the  reader  to  places  where  further  evidence  will  be  found. 

In  minor  matters  I  have  aimed  above  all  things  at  clearness  and  readi- 
ness in  reference.  The  division  of  the  book  into  sections,  with  Appendices 
bearing  the  same  numbers,  will,  it  is  hoped,  facilitate  the  use  both  of 
syllabus  and  of  references  in  general.  I  have  even  risked  the  appearance 
of  pedantry  in  adding  a  glossary.  Where  many  unfamiliar  facts  and 
ideas  have  to  be  dealt  with,  time  is  saved  in  the  end  if  the  writer  explains 
precisely  what  his  terms  mean. 

F.  W.  H.  MYERS. 


GLOSSARY 


Note.  —  The  words  and  phrases  here  included  fall  under  three  main  heads:-— 
(i)    Words  common  only  in  philosophical  or  medical  use. 

(2)  Words  or  phrases  used  in  psychical  research  with  some  special  significance. 

(3)  A  few  words,  distinguished  by  an  asterisk,  for  which  the  author  is  himself 
responsible. 

Aboulia.  —  Loss  of  power  of  willing. 

After-image.  —  A  retinal  picture  of  an  object  seen  after  removing  the 
gaze  from  the  object. 

Agent.  —  The  person  who  seems  to  initiate  a  telepathic  transmission. 

Agraphia.  —  Lack  of  power  to  write  words. 

Alexia  or  Word-blindness.  —  Lack  of  power  to  understand  words 
written. 

Anaesthesia,  or  the  loss  of  sensation  generally,  must  be  distinguished 
from  analgesia,  or  the  loss  of  the  sense  of  pain  alone. 

Analgesia.  —  Insensibility  to  pain. 

Aphasia.  —  Incapacity  of  coherent  utterance,  not  caused  by  structural 
impairment  of  the  vocal  organs,  but  by  lesion  of  the  cerebral  centres  for 
speech. 

Aphonia.  —  Incapacity  of  uttering  sounds. 

Automatic.  —  Used  of  mental  images  arising  and  movements  made 
without  the  initiation,  and  generally  without  the  concurrence,  of  conscious 
thought  and  will.  Sensory  automatism  will  thus  include  visual  and  audi- 
tory hallucinations.  Motor  automatism  will  include  messages  written  and 
words  uttered  without  intention  (automatic  script,  trance-utterance,  etc.). 

Automnesia.  —  Spontaneous  revival  of  memories  of  an  earlier  condition 
of  life. 

Autoscope.  —  Any  instrument  which  reveals  a  subliminal  motor  im- 
pulse or  sensory  impression,  e.g.,  a  divining  rod,  a  tilting  table,  or  a  plan- 
chette. 

Bilocation.  —  The  sensation  of  being  in  two  different  places  at  once, 
namely  where  one's  organism  is,  and  in  a  place  distant  from  it. 

Catalepsy.  —  "  An  intermittent  neurosis  producing  inability  to  change 
the  position  of  a  limb,  while  another  person  can  place  the  muscles  in  a 
state  of  flexion  or  contraction  as  he  will."  (Tuke's  Dictionary  of  Psycholo- 
gical Medicine.) 

Centre  of  Consciousness.  —  The  place  where  a  percipient  imagines 
himself  to  be.  The  point  of  view  from  which  he  seems  to  himself  to  be 
surveying  some  phantasmal  scene. 

Chromatism.  —  See  Secondary  Sensations. 

xiii 


xiv  GLOSSARY 

Clair-audience.  —  The  sensation  of  hearing  an  internal  (but  in  some 
way  veridical)  voice. 

Clairvoyance  (Lucidite*).  —  The  faculty  or  act  of  perceiving,  as  though 
visually,  with  some  coincidental  truth,  some  distant  scene. 

Ccenesthesia.  —  That  consensus  or  agreement  of  many  organic  sensa- 
tions which  is  a  fundamental  element  in  our  conception  of  personal 
identity. 

Control.  —  This  word  is  used  of  the  intelligence  which  purports  to 
communicate  messages  which  are  written  or  uttered  by  the  automatist, 
sensitive  or  medium. 

*  Cosmopathic.  —  Open  to  the  access  of  supernormal  knowledge  or 
emotion. 

Cryptomnesia.  —  Submerged  or  subliminal  memory  of  events  forgotten 
by  the  supraliminal  self. 

*  Dextro-cerebral  (opposed  to  *  Sinistro-cerebral)  of  left-handed  persons 
as  employing  preferentially  the  right  hemisphere  of  the  brain. 

Diathesis.  —  Habit,  capacity,  constitutional  disposition  or  tendency. 

Dimorphism.  —  In  crystals  the  property  of  assuming  two  incompatible 
forms:  in  plants  and  animals,  difference  of  form  between  members  of  the 
same  species.  Used  of  a  condition  of  alternating  personalities,  in  which 
memory,  character,  etc.,  present  themselves  at  different  times  in  different 
forms  in  the  same  person. 

Discarnate.  —  Disembodied,  opposed  to  incarnate. 

Disintegration  of  Personality.  —  Used  of  any  condition  where  the  sense 
of  personality  is  not  unitary  and  continuous :  especially  when  secondary 
and  transitory  personalities  intervene. 

Dynamogeny.  —  The  increase  of  nervous  energy  by  appropriate  stimuli, 
often  opposed  to  inhibition. 

Ecmnesia.  —  Loss  of  memory  of  a  period  of  time. 

*  Entencephalic.  —  On  the  analogy  of  entoptic :  of  sensations,  etc., 
which  have  their  origin  within  the  brain,  not  in  the  external  world. 

Eugenics.  —  The  science  of  improving  the  race. 

Falsidical.  —  Of  hallucinations  delusive ,  i.e.,  when  there  is  nothing 
objective  to  which  they  correspond.    The  correlative  term  to  veridical. 

Glossolaly.  —  "  Speaking  with  tongues,"  i.e.,  automatic  utterance  of 
words  not  belonging  to  any  real  language. 

Hallucination.  —  Any  sensory  perception  which  has  no  objective 
counterpart  within  the  field  of  vision,  hearing,  etc.,  is  termed  a  hallucination. 

Heterozsthesia.  —  A  form  of  sensibility  decidedly  different  from  any  of 
those  which  can  be  referred  to  the  action  of  the  known  senses. 

Hyperboulia.  —  Increased  power  over  the  organism,  —  resembling  the 
power  which  we  call  will  when  it  is  exercised  over  the  voluntary  muscles,  — 
which  is  seen  in  the  bodily  changes  effected  by  self-suggestion. 

Hyperesthesia.  —  Unusual  acuteness  of  the  senses. 

Hypermnesia.  —  "Over-activity  of  the  memory;  a  condition  in  which 
past  acts,  feelings,  or  ideas  are  brought  vividly  to  the  mind,  which,  in  its 
normal  condition,  has  wholly  lost  the  remembrance  of  them."  (Tuke's 
Diet.) 


GLOSSARY  xv 

*  Hyperpromethia.  —  Supernormal  power  of  foresight. 

Hypnagogic.  —  Illusions  hypnagogiques  (Maury)  are  the  vivid  illu- 
sions of  sight  or  sound  —  "faces  in  the  dark,"  etc. — which  sometimes 
accompany  the  oncoming  of  sleep.  To  similar  illusions  accompanying 
the  departure  of  sleep,  as  when  a  dream-figure  persists  for  a  few  moments 
into  waking  life,  I  have  given  the  name  *  hypnopompic. 

Hypnogenous  zones.  —  Regions  by  pressure  on  which  hypnosis  is 
induced  in  some  hysterical  persons. 

*  Hypnopompic.  —  See  Hypnagogic. 

Hysteria.  —  "A  disordered  condition  of  the  nervous  system,  the 
anatomical  seat  and  nature  of  which  are  unknown  to  medical  science, 
but  of  which  the  symptoms  consist  in  well-marked  and  very  varied  dis- 
turbances of  nerve-function"  (Ency.  Brit.).  Hysterical  affections  are  not 
dependent  on  any  discoverable  lesion. 

Hysterogenous  zones.  —  Points  or  tracts  on  the  skin  of  a  hysterical 
person,  pressure  on  which  will  induce  a  hysterical  attack. 

Ideational.  —  Used  of  impressions  which  display  some  distinct  notion, 
but  not  of  sensory  nature. 

Induced.  —  Of  hallucinations,  etc.,  intentionally  produced. 

Levitation.  —  A  raising  of  objects  from  the  ground  by  supposed  super- 
normal means;  especially  of  living  persons. 

Medium.  —  A  person  through  whom  communication  is  deemed  to  be 
carried  on  between  living  men  and  spirits  of  the  departed.  It  is  often 
better  replaced  by  automatist  or  sensitive. 

Message.  —  Used  for  any  communication,  not  necessarily  verbal,  from 
one  to  another  stratum  of  the  automatist 's  personality,  or  from  an  external 
intelligence  to  the  automatist's  mind. 

Metallcesthesia.  —  A  form  of  sensibility  alleged  to  exist  which  enables 
some  hypnotised  or  hysterical  subjects  to  discriminate  between  the  contacts 
of  various  metals  by  sensations  not  derived  from  their  ordinary  properties 
of  weight,  etc. 

Metastasis.  —  Change  of  the  seat  of  a  bodily  function  from  one  place 
(e.g.,  brain-centre)  to  another. 

*Metetherial.  —  That  which  appears  to  lie  after  or  beyond  the  ether: 
the  metetherial  environment  denotes  the  spiritual  or  transcendental  world 
in  which  the  soul  may  be  supposed  to  exist. 

*  Methectic.  —  Of  communications  between  one  stratum  of  a  man's 
intelligence  and  another. 

Mirror-writing  {ecriture  renverste,  Spiegel-schrijt). —  Writing  so  in- 
verted, or,  more  exactly,  perverted,  as  to  resemble  writing  reflected  in  a 
mirror. 

Mnemonic  chain.  —  A  continuous  series  of  memories,  especially  when 
the  continuity  persists  after  an  interruption. 

Motor.  —  Used  of  an  impulse  to  action  not  carrying  with  it  any  definite 
idea  or  sensory  impression. 

Negative  hallucination  or  systematised  anaesthesia.  —  Signifies  the  con- 
dition of  an  entranced  subject  who,  as  the  result  of  a  suggestion,  is  unable 
to  perceive  some  object  or  to  hear  some  sound,  etc. 


xvi  GLOSSARY 

Number  forms.  —  See  Secondary  sensations. 

Objectify.  —  To  externalize  a  phantom  as  if  it  were  a  material  object; 
to  see  it  as  a  part  of  the  waking  world. 
*       *  Panmnesia.  —  A  potential  recollection  of  all  impressions. 

Paresthesia.  —  Erroneous  or  morbid  sensation. 

Paramnesia.  —  All  forms  of  erroneous  memory. 

Paraphasia.  —  The  erroneous  and  involuntary  use  of  one  word  for 
another. 

Percipient.  —  The  correlative  term  to  Agent ;  the  person  on  whose 
mind  the  telepathic  impact  falls;  or,  more  generally,  the  person  who 
perceives  any  motor  or  sensory  impression. 

Phantasm  and  Phantom.  —  Phantasm  and  phantom  are,  of  course, 
mere  variants  of  the  same  word;  but  since  phantom  has  become  generally 
restricted  to  visual  hallucinations,  it  is  convenient  to  take  phantasm  to 
cover  a  wider  range,  and  to  signify  any  hallucinatory  sensory  impression, 
whatever  sense  —  whether  sight,  hearing,  touch,  smell,  taste,  or  diffused 
sensibility  —  may  happen  to  be  affected. 

Phantasmo genetic  centre.  —  A  point  in  space  apparently  modified  by 
a  spirit  in  such  a  way  that  persons  present  near  it  perceive  a  phantasm. 

Phobies.  —  Irrational  restricting  or  disabling  preoccupations  or  fears ; 
e.g.,  agoraphobia,  fear  of  open  spaces. 

Photism.  —  See  Secondary  sensations. 

Point  de  replre.  —  Guiding  mark.  Used  of  some  (generally  inconspic- 
uous) real  object  which  a  hallucinated  subject  sometimes  sees  as  the  nucleus 
of  his  hallucination,  and  the  movements  of  which  suggest  corresponding 
movements  of  the  hallucinatory  object. 

Polyzoism.  —  The  property,  in  a  complex  organism,  of  being  composed 
of  minor  and  quasi-independent  organisms.  This  is  sometimes  called 
" colonial  constitution,"  from  animal  colonies. 

Possession.  —  A  developed  form  of  motor  automatism,  in  which  the 
automatist's  own  personality  disappears  for  a  time,  while  there  appears 
to  be  a  more  or  less  complete  substitution  of  personality,  writing  or  speech 
being  given  by  another  spirit  through  the  entranced  organism. 

Post-hypnotic.  —  Used  of  a  suggestion  given  during  the  hypnotic  trance, 
but  intended  to  operate  after  that  trance  has  ceased. 

Precognition.  —  Knowledge  of  impending  events  supernormally  ac- 
quired. 

Premonition.  —  A  supernormal  indication  of  any  kind  of  event  still  in 
the  future. 

*  Preversion.  —  A  tendency  to  characteristics  assumed  to  lie  at  a 
further  point  of  the  evolutionary  progress  of  a  species  than  has  yet  been 
reached;  opposed  to  reversion. 

*  Promnesia.  —  The  paradoxical  sensation  of  recollecting  a  scene 
which  is  only  now  occurring  for  the  first  time;  the  sense  of  the  deja  vu. 

*  Psychorrhagy.  —  A  special  idiosyncrasy  which  tends  to  make  the 
phantasm  of  a  person  easily  perceptible;  the  breaking  loose  of  a  psychical 
element,  definable  mainly  by  its  power  of  producing  a  phantasm,  perceptible 
by  one  or  more  persons,  in  some  portion  of  space. 


GLOSSARY  xvii 

*  Psychorrhagic  diathesis.  —  A  habit  or  capacity  of  detaching  some 
psychical  element,  involuntarily  and  without  purpose,  in  such  a  manner 
as  to  produce  a  phantasm. 

Psycho-therapeutics.  —  "  Treatment  of  disease  by  the  influence  of  the 
mind  on  the  body."  (Tuke's  Diet.) 

Reciprocal.  —  Used  of  cases  where  there  is  both  agency  and  percipience 
at  each  end  of  the  telepathic  chain,  so  that  A  perceives  P,  and  P  perceives 
A  also, 

*  Retrocognition.  —  Knowledge  of  the  past,  supernormally  acquired. 
Secondary  personality.  —  It  sometimes  happens,  as  the  result  of  shock, 

disease,  or  unknown  causes,  that  an  individual  experiences  an  altera- 
tion of  memory  and  character,  amounting  to  a  change  of  personality, 
vhich  generally  seems  to  have  come  on  during  sleep.  The  new  personality 
is  in  that  case  termed  secondary,  in  distinction  to  the  original,  or  primary, 
personality. 

Secondary  sensations  (Secunddrempfindungen,  audition  colorie,  sound- 
seeing,  syncesthesia,  etc.). — With  some  persons  every  sensation  of  one 
type  is  accompanied  by  a  sensation  of  another  type;  as  for  instance,  a 
special  sound  may  be  accompanied  by  a  special  sensation  of  colour  or 
light  {chromatisms  or  photisms).  This  phenomenon  is  analogous  to  that 
of  number-forms,  —  a  kind  of  diagrammatic  mental  picture  which  accom- 
panies the  conception  of  a  progression  of  numbers.  See  Galton's  Inquiries 
into  Human  Faculty. 

Shell-hearing.  —  The  induction  of  hallucinatory  voices,  etc.,  by  listening 
to  a  shell.     Analogous  to  crystal-gazing. 

Stigmatisation.  —  The  production  of  blisters  or  other  cutaneous  changes 
on  the  hands,  feet,  or  elsewhere,  by  suggestion  or  self-suggestion. 

Subliminal.  —  Of  thoughts,  feelings,  etc.,  lying  beneath  the  ordinary 
threshold  (limen)  of  consciousness,  as  opposed  to  supraliminal,  lying  above 
the  threshold. 

Suggestion.  —  The  process  of  effectively  impressing  upon  the  subliminal 
intelligence  the  wishes  of  some  other  person.  Self-suggestion  means  a 
suggestion  conveyed  by  the  subject  himself  from  one  stratum  of  his 
personality  to  another,  without  external  intervention. 

*  Supernormal.  —  Of  a  faculty  or  phenomenon  which  transcends  ordi- 
nary experience.  Used  in  preference  to  the  word  supernatural,  as  not 
assuming  that  there  is  anything  outside  nature  or  any  arbitrary  interference 
with  natural  law. 

Supraliminal.  —  See  Subliminal. 

Syncesthesia.  —  See  Secondary  Sensations. 

Synergy.  —  A  number  of  actions  correlated  together,  or  combined  into 
a  group. 

Telekinesis.  —  Used  of  alleged  supernormal  movements  of  objects,  not 
due  to  any  known  force. 

^Telepathy.  —  The  communication  of  impressions  of  any  kind  from 
one  mind  to  another,  independently  of  the  recognised  channels  of 
sense. 

*  Telcesthesia.  —  Any  direct  sensation  or  perception  of  objects  or  con- 


xviii  GLOSSARY 

ditions  independently  of  the  recognised  channels  of  sense,  and  also  under 
such  circumstances  that  no  known  mind  external  to  the  percipient's  can 
be  suggested  as  the  source  of  the  knowledge  thus  gained. 

*  Telergy.  —  The  force  exercised  by  the  mind  of  an  agent  in  impressing 
a  percipient,  —  involving  a  direct  influence  of  the  extraneous  spirit  on 
the  brain  or  organism  of  the  percipient. 

Veridical.  —  Of  hallucinations,  when  they  correspond  to  real  events 
happening  elsewhere  and  unknown  to  the  percipient. 


CHAPTER  I 
INTRODUCTION 

Maior  agit  deus,  atque  opera  in  maiora  remittit. 

—  Virgil. 

In  the  long  story  of  man's  endeavours  to  understand  his  own  environ- 
ment and  to  govern  his  own  fates,  there  is  one  gap  or  omission  so  singular 
that,  however  we  may  afterwards  contrive  to  explain  the  fact,  its  simple 
statement  has  the  air  of  a  paradox.  Yet  it  is  strictly  true  to  say  that  man 
has  never  yet  applied  to  the  problems  which  most  profoundly  concern  him 
those  methods  of  inquiry  which  in  attacking  all  other  problems  he  has 
found  the  most  efficacious. 

The  question  for  man  most  momentous  of  all  is  whether  or  no  he  has 
an  immortal  soul;  or  —  to  avoid  the  word  immortal,  which  belongs  to  the 
realm  of  infinities  —  whether  or  no  his  personality  involves  any  element 
which  can  survive  bodily  death.  In  this  direction  have  always  lain  the 
gravest  fears,  the  farthest-reaching  hopes,  which  could  either  oppress  or 
stimulate  mortal  minds. 

On  the  other  hand,  the  method  which  our  race  has  found  most  effective 
in  acquiring  knowledge  is  by  this  time  familiar  to  all  men.  It  is  the  method 
of  modern  Science  —  that  process  which  consists  in  an  interrogation  of 
Nature  entirely  dispassionate,  patient,  systematic;  such  careful  experiment 
and  cumulative  record  as  can  often  elicit  from  her  slightest  indications 
her  deepest  truths.  That  method  is  now  dominant  throughout  the  civi- 
lised world;  and  although  in  many  directions  experiments  may  be  difficult 
and  dubious,  facts  rare  and  elusive,  Science  works  slowly  on  and  bides 
her  time,  —  refusing  to  fall  back  upon  tradition  or  to  launch  into  specu- 
lation, merely  because  strait  is  the  gate  which  leads  to  valid  discovery, 
indisputable  truth. 

I  say,  then,  that  this  method  has  never  yet  been  applied  to  the  all- 
important  problem  of  the  existence,  the  powers,  the  destiny  of  the  human 
soul. 

Nor  is  this  strange  omission  due  to  any  general  belief  that  the  problem 


2  CHAPTER   I 

is  in  its  nature  incapable  of  solution  by  any  observation  whatever  which 
mankind  could  make.  That  resolutely  agnostic  view  —  I  may  almost 
say  that  scientific  superstition  —  "ignoramus  et  ignorabimus" —  is  no 
doubt  held  at  the  present  date  by  many  learned  minds.  But  it  has  never 
been  the  creed,  nor  is  it  now  the  creed,  of  the  human  race  generally.  In 
most  civilised  countries  there  has  been  for  nearly  two  thousand  years  a 
distinct  belief  that  survival  has  actually  been  proved  by  certain  phenomena 
observed  at  a  given  date  in  Palestine.  And  beyond  the  Christian  pale  — 
whether  through  reason,  instinct,  or  superstition  —  it  has  ever  been  com- 
monly held  that  ghostly  phenomena  of  one  kind  or  another  exist  to  testify 
to  a  life  beyond  the  life  we  know. 

But,  nevertheless,  neither  those  who  believe  on  vague  grounds  nor 
those  who  believe  on  definite  grounds  that  the  question  might  possibly  be 
solved,  or  has  actually  been  solved,  by  human  observation  of  objective 
facts,  have  hitherto  made  any  serious  attempt  to  connect  and  correlate  that 
belief  with  the  general  scheme  of  belief  for  which  Science  already  vouches. 
They  have  not  sought  for  fresh  corroborative  instances,  for  analogies,  for 
explanations ;  rather  they  have  kept  their  convictions  on  these  fundamental 
matters  in  a  separate  and  sealed  compartment  of  their  minds,  a  compart- 
ment consecrated  to  religion  or  to  superstition,  but  not  to  observation  or 
to  experiment. 

It  is  my  object  in  the  present  work  —  as  it  has  from  the  first  been  the 
object  of  the  Society  for  Psychical  Research,  on  whose  behalf  most  of  the 
evidence  here  set  forth  has  been  collected,  —  to  do  what  can  be  done  to 
break  down  that  artificial  wall  of  demarcation  which  has  thus  far  excluded 
from  scientific  treatment  precisely  the  problems  which  stand  in  most 
need  of  all  the  aids  to  discovery  which  such  treatment  can  afford. 

Yet  let  me  first  explain  that  by  the  word  "scientific "  I  signify  an  author- 
ity to  which  I  submit  myself  —  not  a  standard  which  I  claim  to  attain. 
Any  science  of  which  I  can  here  speak  as  possible  must  be  a  nascent  science 
—  not  such  as  one  of  those  vast  systems  of  connected  knowledge  which 
thousands  of  experts  now  steadily  push  forward  in  laboratories  in  every 
land  —  but  such  as  each  one  of  those  great  sciences  was  in  its  dim  and 
poor  beginning,  when  a  few  monks  groped  among  the  properties  of  "the 
noble  metals,"  or  a  few  Chaldean  shepherds  outwatched  the  setting  stars. 

What  I  am  able  to  insist  upon  is  the  mere  Socratic  rudiment  of  these 
organisms  of  exact  thought  —  the  first  axiomatic  prerequisite  of  any  valid 
progress.  My  one  contention  is  that  in  the  discussion  of  the  deeper  prob- 
lems of  man's  nature  and  destiny  there  ought  to  be  exactly  the  same  open- 
ness of  mind,  exactly  the  same  diligence  in  the  search  for  objective  evidence 


INTRODUCTION  3 

of  any  kind,  exactly  the  same  critical  analysis  of  results,  as  is  habitually 
shown,  for  instance,  in  the  discussion  of  the  nature  and  destiny  of  the 
planet  upon  which  man  now  moves. 

Obvious  truism  although  this  statement  may  at  first  seem,  it  will  pre- 
sently be  found,  I  think,  that  those  who  subscribe  to  it  are  in  fact  com- 
mitting themselves  to  inquiries  of  a  wider  and  stranger  type  than  any  to 
which  they  are  accustomed;  —  are  stepping  outside  certain  narrow  limits 
within  which,  by  ancient  convention,  disputants  on  either  side  of  these 
questions  are  commonly  confined. 

A  brief  recall  to  memory  of  certain  familiar  historical  facts  will  serve 
to  make  my  meaning  clearer.  Let  us  consider  how  it  has  come  about 
that,  whereas  the  problem  of  man's  survival  of  death  is  by  most  persons 
regarded  as  a  problem  in  its  nature  soluble  by  sufficient  evidence,  and 
whereas  to  many  persons  the  traditional  evidence  commonly  adduced 
appears  insufficient,  —  nevertheless  no  serious  effort  has  been  made  on 
either  side  to  discover  whether  other  and  more  recent  evidence  can  or 
cannot  be  brought  forward. 

A  certain  broad  answer  to  this  inquiry,  although  it  cannot  be  said  to 
be  at  all  points  familiar,  is  not  in  reality  far  to  seek.  It  is  an  answer  which 
would  seem  strange  indeed  to  some  visitant  from  a  planet  peopled  wholly 
by  scientific  minds.  Yet  among  a  race  like  our  own,  concerned  first  and 
primarily  to  live  and  work  with  thoughts  undistracted  from  immediate 
needs,  the  answer  is  natural  enough.  For  the  fact  simply  is  that  the 
intimate  importance  of  this  central  problem  has  barred  the  way  to  its 
methodical,  its  scientific  solution. 

There  are  some  beliefs  for  which  mankind  cannot  afford  to  wait.  "What 
must  I  do  to  be  saved?"  is  a  question  quite  otherwise  urgent  than  the 
cause  of  the  tides  or  the  meaning  of  the  marks  on  the  moon.  Men  must 
settle  roughly  somehow  what  it  is  that  from  the  Unseen  World  they  have 
reason  to  fear  or  to  hope.  Beliefs  grow  up  in  direct  response  to  this  need 
of  belief;  in  order  to  support  themselves  they  claim  unique  sanction;  and 
thus  along  with  these  specific  beliefs  grows  also  the  general  habit  of  re- 
garding matters  that  concern  that  Unseen  World  as  somehow  tabooed  or 
segregated  from  ordinary  observation  or  inquiry. 

Let  us  pass  from  generalities  to  the  actual  history  of  Western  civilisa- 
tion. In  an  age  when  scattered  ritual,  local  faiths  —  tribal  solutions  of 
cosmic  problems  —  were  destroying  each  other  by  mere  contact  and  fusion, 
an  event  occurred  which  in  the  brief  record  of  man's  still  incipient  civilisa- 
tion may  be  regarded  as  unique.  A  life  was  lived  in  which  the  loftiest 
response  which  man's  need  of  moral  guidance  had  ever  received  was 


4  CHAPTER   I 

corroborated  by  phenomena  which  have  been  widely  regarded  as  convin- 
cingly miraculous,  and  which  are  said  to  have  culminated  in  a  Resurrection 
from  the  dead.  To  those  phenomena  or  to  that  Resurrection  it  would  at 
this  point  be  illegitimate  for  me  to  refer  in  defence  of  my  argument.  I  have 
appealed  to  Science,  and  to  Science  I  must  go;  —  in  the  sense  that  it  would 
be  unfair  for  me  to  claim  support  from  that  which  Science  in  her  strictness 
can  set  aside  as  the  tradition  of  a  pre-scientific  age.  Yet  this  one  great 
tradition,  as  we  know,  has,  as  a  fact,  won  the  adhesion  and  reverence  of  the 
great  majority  of  European  minds.  The  complex  results  which  followed 
from  this  triumph  of  Christianity  have  been  discussed  by  many  historians. 
But  one  result  which  here  appears  to  us  in  a  new  light  was  this  —  that  the 
Christian  religion,  the  Christian  Church,  became  for  Europe  the  accredited 
representative  and  guardian  of  all  phenomena  bearing  upon  the  World 
Unseen.  So  long  as  Christianity  stood  dominant,  all  phenomena  which 
seemed  to  transcend  experience  were  absorbed  in  her  realm  —  were  ac- 
counted as  minor  indications  of  the  activity  of  her  angels  or  of  her  fiends. 
And  when  Christianity  was  seriously  attacked,  these  minor  manifestations 
passed  unconsidered.  The  priests  thought  it  safest  to  defend  their  own 
traditions,  their  own  intuitions,  without  going  afield  in  search  of  indepen- 
dent evidence  of  a  spiritual  world.  Their  assailants  kept  their  powder  and 
shot  for  the  orthodox  ramparts,  ignoring  any  isolated  strongholds  which 
formed  no  part  of  the  main  line  of  defence. 

Meantime,  indeed,  the  laws  of  Nature  held  their  wonted  way.  As 
ever,  that  which  the  years  had  once  brought  they  brought  again;  and  every 
here  and  there  some  marvel,  liker  to  the  old  stories  than  any  one  cared  to 
assert,  cropped  up  between  superstition  on  the  one  hand  and  contemptuous 
indifference  on  the  other.  Witchcraft,  Swedenborgianism,  Mesmerism, 
Spiritism  —  these  especially,  amid  many  minor  phenomena,  stood  out  in 
turn  as  precursory  of  the  inevitable  wider  inquiry.  A  very  few  words  on 
each  of  these  four  movements  may  suffice  here  to  show  their  connection 
with  my  present  theme. 

Witchcraft.  —  The  lesson  which  witchcraft  teaches  with  regard  to  the 
validity  of  human  testimony  is  the  more  remarkable  because  it  was  so  long 
and  so  completely  misunderstood.  The  belief  in  witches  long  passed  — 
as  well  it  might  —  as  the  culminant  example  of  human  ignorance  and  folly ; 
and  in  so  comparatively  recent  a  book  as  Mr.  Lecky's  "History  of  Ration- 
alism," the  sudden  decline  of  this  popular  conviction,  without  argument 
or  disapproval,  is  used  to  illustrate  the  irresistible  melting  away  of  error 
and  falsity  in  the  " intellectual  climate"  of  a  wiser  age.  Since  about  1880, 
however,  when  French  experiments  especially  had  afforded  conspicuous 


INTRODUCTION  5 

examples  of  what  a  hysterical  woman  could  come  to  believe  under  sugges- 
tion from  others  or  from  herself,  it  has  begun  to  be  felt  that  the  phenomena 
of  witchcraft  were  very  much  what  the  phenomena  of  the  Salpetriere 
would  seem  to  be  to  the  patients  themselves,  if  left  alone  in  the  hospital 
without  a  medical  staff.  And  in  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  Edmund  Gur- 
ney,  after  subjecting  the  literature  of  witchcraft  to  a  more  careful  analysis 
than  any  one  till  then  had  thought  it  worth  while  to  apply,  was  able  to 
show  that  practically  all  recorded  first-hand  depositions  (made  apart 
from  torture)  in  the  long  story  of  witchcraft  may  quite  possibly  have  been 
true,  to  the  best  belief  of  the  deponents ;  true,  that  is  to  say,  as  representing 
the  conviction  of  sane  (though  often  hysterical)  persons,  who  merely  made 
the  almost  inevitable  mistake  of  confusing  self-suggested  hallucinations 
with  waking  fact.  Nay,  even  the  insensible  spots  on  the  witches  were 
no  doubt  really  anaesthetic  —  involved  a  first  discovery  of  a  now  familiar 
clinical  symptom  —  the  zones  analgesiques  of  the  patients  of  Pitres  or 
Charcot.  Witchcraft,  in  fact,  was  a  gigantic,  a  cruel  psychological  and 
pathological  experiment  conducted  by  inquisitors  upon  hysteria;  but  it 
was  conducted  in  the  dark,  and  when  the  barbarous  explanation  dropped 
out  of  credence  much  of  possible  discovery  was  submerged  as  well. 

Mesmer.  —  Again,  the  latent  possibilities  of  "  suggestion,"  —  though 
not  yet  under  that  name,  and  mingled  with  who  knows  what  else  ?  —  broke 
forth  into  a  blaze  in  the  movement  headed  by  Mesmer;  —  at  once  dis- 
coverer and  charlatan.  Again  the  age  was  unripe,  and  scientific  opposi- 
tion, although  not  so  formidable  as  the  religious  opposition  which  had 
sent  witches  to  the  stake,  was  yet  strong  enough  to  check  for  the  second 
time  the  struggling  science.  Hardly  till  our  own  generation  —  hardly  even 
now  —  has  a  third  effort  found  better  acceptance,  and  hypnotism  and 
psycho-therapeutics,  in  which  every  well-attested  fact  of  witchcraft  or  of 
mesmerism  finds,  if  not  its  explanation,  at  least  its  parallel,  are  establishing 
themselves  as  a  recognised  and  advancing  method  of  relieving  human  ills. 

This  brief  sketch  of  the  development  as  it  were  by  successive  impulses, 
under  strong  disbelief  and  discouragement,  of  a  group  of  mental  tenden- 
cies, faculties,  or  sensibilities  now  recognised  as  truly  existing  and  as  often 
salutary,  is  closely  paralleled  by  the  development,  under  similar  difficulties, 
of  another  group  of  faculties  or  sensibilities,  whose  existence  is  still  dis- 
puted, but  which  if  firmly  established  may  prove  to  be  of  even  greater 
moment  for  mankind. 

At  no  time  known  to  us,  whether  before  or  since  the  Christian  era,  has 
the  series  of  trance-manifestations,  —  of  supposed  communications  with  a 
supernal  world,  —  entirely  ceased.     Sometimes,   as  in  the  days   of  St. 


6  CHAPTER   I 

Theresa,  such  trance  or  ecstasy  has  been,  one  may  say,  the  central  or  cul- 
minant fact  in  the  Christian  world.  Of  these  experiences  I  must  not  here 
treat.  The  evidence  for  them  is  largely  of  a  subjective  type,  and  they 
may  belong  more  fitly  to  some  future  discussion  as  to  the  amount  of  con- 
fidence due  to  the  interpretation  given  by  entranced  persons  to  their  own 
phenomena. 

But  in  the  midst  of  this  long  series,  and  in  full  analogy  to  many  minor 
cases,  occurs  the  exceptional  trance-history  of  Emmanuel  Swedenborg. 
In  this  case,  as  is  well  known,  there  appears  to  have  been  excellent  objective 
evidence  both  of  clairvoyance  or  telaesthesia1  and  of  communciation  with 
departed  persons ;  —  and  we  can  only  regret  that  the  philosopher  Kant, 
who  satisfied  himself  of  some  part  of  Swedenborg's  supernormal 2  gift,  did 
not  press  further  an  inquiry  surpassed  in  importance  by  none  of  those 
upon  which  his  master-mind  was  engaged.  Apart,  however,  from  these 
objective  evidences,  the  mere  subject-matter  of  Swedenborg's  trance- 
revelations  was  enough  to  claim  respectful  attention.  I  cannot  here 
discuss  the  strange  mixture  which  they  present  of  slavish  literalism  with 
exalted  speculation,  of  pedantic  orthodoxy  with  physical  and  moral  insight 
far  beyond  the  level  of  that  age.  It  is  enough  to  say  here  that  even  as 
Socrates  called  down  philosophy  from  heaven  to  earth,  so  in  a  somewhat 
different  sense  it  was  Swedenborg  who  called  up  philosophy  again  from 
earth  to  heaven;  —  who  originated  the  notion  of  science  in  the  spiritual 
world,  as  earnestly,  though  not  so  persuasively,  as  Socrates  originated 
the  idea  of  science  in  this  world  which  we  seem  to  know.  It  was  to  Sweden- 
borg first  that  that  unseen  world  appeared  before  all  things  as  a  realm  of 
law;  a  region  not  of  mere  emotional  vagueness  or  stagnancy  of  adoration, 
but  of  definite  progress  according  to  definite  relations  of  cause  and  effect, 
resulting  from  structural  laws  of  spiritual  existence  and  intercourse  which 
we  may  in  time  learn  partially  to  apprehend.  For  my  own  part  I  regard 
Swedenborg,  —  not,  assuredly,  as  an  inspired  teacher,  nor  even  as  a  trust- 

1  See  glossary. 

2 1  have  ventured  to  coin  the  word  "supernormal"  to  be  applied  to  phenomena 
which  are  beyond  what  usually  happens  —  beyond,  that  is,  in  the  sense  of  suggesting 
unknown  psychical  laws.  It  is  thus  formed  on  the  analogy  of  abnormal.  When  we 
speak  of  an  abnormal  phenomenon  we  do  not  mean  one  which  contravenes  natural 
laws,  but  one  which  exhibits  them  in  an  unusual  or  inexplicable  form.  Similarly  by  a 
supernormal  phenomenon  I  mean,  not  one  which  overrides  natural  laws,  for  I  believe 
no  such  phenomenon  to  exist,  but  one  which  exhibits  the  action  of  laws  higher,  in  a 
psychical  aspect,  than  are  discerned  in  action  in  everyday  life.  By  higher  (either  in  a 
psychical  or  physiological  sense)  I  mean  "apparently  belonging  to  a  more  advanced 
stage  of  evolution," 


INTRODUCTION  7 

worthy  interpreter  of  his  own  experiences,  —  but  yet  as  a  true  and  early 
precursor  of  that  great  inquiry  which  it  is  our  present  object  to  advance. 

The  next  pioneer  —  fortunately  still  amongst  us  —  whom  I  must 
mention  even  in  this  summary  notice,  is  the  celebrated  physicist  and 
chemist,  Sir  W.  Crookes.  Just  as  Swedenborg  was  the  first  leading  man 
of  science  who  distinctly  conceived  of  the  spiritual  world  as  a  world  of 
law,  so  was  Sir  W.  Crookes  the  first  leading  man  of  science  who  seriously 
endeavoured  to  test  the  alleged  mutual  influence  and  interpenetration  of 
the  spiritual  world  and  our  own  by  experiments  of  scientific  precision.1 
Beyond  the  establishment  of  certain  supernormal  facts  Crookes  declined 
to  go.  But  a  large  group  of  persons  have  founded  upon  these  and  similar 
facts  a  scheme  of  belief  known  as  Modern  Spiritualism,  or  Spiritism. 
Later  chapters  in  this  book  will  show  how  much  I  owe  to  certain  observa- 
tions made  by  members  of  this  group  —  how  often  my  own  conclusions 
concur  with  conclusions  at  which  they  have  previously  arrived.  And 
yet  this  work  of  mine  is  in  large  measure  a  critical  attack  upon  the  main 
Spiritist  position,  as  held,  say,  by  Mr.  A.  R.  Wallace,  its  most  eminent 
living  supporter,  —  the  belief,  namely,  that  all  or  almost  all  supernormal 
phenomena  are  due  to  the  action  of  spirits  of  the  dead.  By  far  the  larger 
proportion,  as  I  hold,  are  due  to  the  action  of  the  still  embodied  spirit  of 
the  agent  or  percipient  himself.  Apart  from  speculative  differences, 
moreover,  I  altogether  dissent  from  the  conversion  into  a  sectarian  creed 
of  what  I  hold  should  be  a  branch  of  scientific  inquiry,  growing  naturally 
out  of  our  existing  knowledge.  It  is,  I  believe,  largely  to  this  temper  of 
uncritical  acceptance,  degenerating  often  into  blind  credulity,  that  we 
must  refer  the  lack  of  progress  in  Spiritualistic  literature,  and  the  encour- 
agement which  has  often  been  bestowed  upon  manifest  fraud,  —  so  often, 
indeed,  as  to  create  among  scientific  men  a  strong  indisposition  to  the 
study  of  phenomena  recorded  or  advocated  in  a  tone  so  alien  from 
Science. 

I  know  not  how  much  of  originality  or  importance  may  be  attributed 
by  subsequent  students  of  the  subject  to  the  step  next  in  order  in  this  series 
of  approximations.  To  those  immediately  concerned,  the  feeling  of  a 
new  departure  was  inevitably  given  by  the  very  smallness  of  the  support 

1  Other  savants  of  eminence  —  the  great  name  of  Alfred  Russel  Wallace  will  occur 
to  all  —  had  also  satisfied  themselves  of  the  reality  of  these  strange  phenomena;  but 
they  had  not  tested  or  demonstrated  that  reality  with  equal  care.  I  am  not  able  in  this 
brief  sketch  to  allude  to  distinguished  men  of  earlier  date  —  Richard  Glanvil,  John 
Wesley,  Samuel  Johnson,  etc.,  who  discerned  the  importance  of  phenomena  which 
they  had  no  adequate  means  of  investigating. 


8  CHAPTER   I 

which  they  for  a  long  time  received,  and  by  the  difficulty  which  they 
found  in  making  their  point  of  view  intelligible  to  the  scientific,  to  the 
religious,  or  even  to  the  spiritualistic  world.  In  about  1873  —  at  the 
crest,  as  one  may  say,  of  perhaps  the  highest  wave  of  materialism  which 
has  ever  swept  over  these  shores  —  it  became  the  conviction  of  a  small 
group  of  Cambridge  friends  that  the  deep  questions  thus  at  issue  must  be 
fought  out  in  a  way  more  thorough  than  the  champions  either  of  religion 
or  of  materialism  had  yet  suggested.  Our  attitudes  of  mind  were  in  some 
ways  different ;  but  to  myself,  at  least,  it  seemed  that  no  adequate  attempt 
had  yet  been  made  even  to  determine  whether  anything  could  be  learnt  as 
to  an  unseen  world  or  no;  for  that  if  anything  were  knowable  about  such  a 
world  in  such  fashion  that  Science  could  adopt  and  maintain  that  know- 
ledge, it  must  be  discovered  by  no  analysis  of  tradition,  and  by  no  manipu- 
lation of  metaphysics,  but  simply  by  experiment  and  observation;  —  simply 
by  the  application  to  phenomena  within  us  and  around  us  of  precisely 
the  same  methods  of  deliberate,  dispassionate,  exact  inquiry  which  have 
built  up  our  actual  knowledge  of  the  world  which  we  can  touch  and  see. 
I  can  hardly  even  now  guess  to  how  many  of  my  readers  this  will  seem 
a  truism,  and  to  how  many  a  paradox.  Truism  or  paradox,  such  a  thought 
suggested  a  kind  of  effort,  which,  so  far  as  we  could  discover,  had  never 
yet  been  made.  For  what  seemed  needful  was  an  inquiry  of  quite  other 
scope  than  the  mere  analysis  of  historical  documents,  or  of  the  origines 
of  any  alleged  revelation  in  the  past.  It  must  be  an  inquiry  resting  prima- 
rily, as  all  scientific  inquiries  in  the  stricter  sense  now  must  rest,  upon 
objective  facts  actually  observable,  upon  experiments  which  we  can  repeat 
to-day,  and  which  we  may  hope  to  carry  further  to-morrow.  It  must 
be  an  inquiry  based,  to  use  an  old  term,  on  the  unif ormitarian  hypothesis ; 
on  the  presumption,  that  is  to  say,  that  if  a  spiritual  world  exists,  and  if 
that  world  has  at  any  epoch  been  manifest  or  even  discoverable,  then  it  ought 
to  be  manifest  or  discoverable  now. 

It  was  from  this  side,  and  from  these  general  considerations,  that  the 
group  with  which  I  have  worked  approached  the  subject.  Our  methods, 
our  canons,  were  all  to  make.  In  those  early  days  we  were  more  devoid 
of  precedents,  of  guidance,  even  of  criticism  that  went  beyond  mere  ex- 
pressions of  contempt,  than  is  now  readily  conceived.  Seeking  evidence 
as  best  we  could  —  collecting  round  us  a  small  group  of  persons  willing  to 
help  in  that  quest  for  residual  phenomena  in  the  nature  and  experience  of 
man  —  we  were  at  last  fortunate  enough  to  discover  a  convergence  of  ex- 
perimental and  of  spontaneous  evidence  upon  one  definite  and  important 
point.    We  were  led  to  believe  that  there  was  truth  in  a  thesis  which  at 


INTRODUCTION  9 

least  since  Swedenborg  and  the  early  mesmerists  had  been  repeatedly,  but 
cursorily  and  ineffectually,  presented  to  mankind  —  the  thesis  that  a  com- 
munication can  take  place  from  mind  to  mind  without  the  agency  of  the 
recognised  organs  of  sense.  We  found  that  this  agency,  discernible  even 
on  trivial  occasions  by  suitable  experiment,  seemed  to  connect  itself  with 
an  agency  more  intense,  or  at  any  rate  more  recognisable,  which  operated 
at  moments  of  crisis  or  at  the  hour  of  death.  Edmund  Gurney  —  the 
invaluable  collaborator  and  friend  whose  loss  in  1888  was  our  heaviest 
discouragement  —  set  forth  this  evidence  in  a  large  work,  Phantasms  of  the 
Living,  in  whose  preparation  Mr.  Podmore  and  I  took  a  minor  part.  The 
fifteen  years  which  have  elapsed  since  the  publication  of  this  book  in  1886 
have  added  to  the  evidence  on  which  Gurney  relied,  and  have  shown  (I 
venture  to  say)  the  general  soundness  of  the  canons  of  evidence  and  the 
lines  of  argument  which  it  was  his  task  to  shape  and  to  employ.1 

Of  fundamental  importance,  indeed,  is  this  doctrine  of  telepathy  — 
the  first  law,  may  one  not  say  ?  —  laid  open  to  man's  discovery,  which,  in 
my  view  at  least,  while  operating  in  the  material,  is  itself  a  law  of  the 
spiritual  or  metetherial  world.  In  the  course  of  this  work  it  will  be  my 
task  to  show  in  many  connections  how  far-reaching  are  the  implications  of 
this  direct  and  supersensory  communion  of  mind  with  mind.  Among 
those  implications  none  can  be  more  momentous  than  the  light  thrown  by 
this  discovery  upon  man's  intimate  nature  and  possible  survival  of  death. 

We  gradually  discovered  that  the  accounts  of  apparitions  at  the  moment 
of  death  —  testifying  to  a  supersensory  communication  between  the  dying 
man  and  the  friend  who  sees  him  —  led  on  without  perceptible  break  to 
apparitions  occurring  after  the  death  of  the  person  seen,  but  while  that 
death  was  yet  unknown  to  the  percipient,  and  thus  apparently  due,  not  to 
mere  brooding  memory,  but  to  a  continued  action  of  that  departed  spirit. 
The  task  next  incumbent  on  us  therefore  seemed  plainly  to  be  the  collec- 
tion and  analysis  of  evidence  of  this  and  other  types,  pointing  directly  to 
the  survival  of  man's  spirit.  But  after  pursuing  this  task  for  some  years  I 
felt  that  in  reality  the  step  from  the  action  of  embodied  to  the  action  of 
disembodied  spirits  would  still  seem  too  sudden  if  taken  in  this  direct 
way.  So  far,  indeed,  as  the  evidence  from  apparitions  went,  the  series 
seemed  continuous  from  phantasms  of  the  living  to  phantasms  of  the  dead. 
But  the  whole  mass  of  evidence  prima  facie  pointing  to  man's  survival  was 

1  The  Society  for  Psychical  Research  was  founded  in  1882,  Professor  W.  F.  Barrett 
taking  a  leading  part  in  its  promotion.  Henry  Sidgwick  was  its  first  President,  and 
Edmund  Gurney  was  its  first  Honorary  Secretary  —  he  and  I  being  joint  Honorary 
Secretaries  of  its  Literary  Committee,  whose  business  was  the  collection  of  evidence. 


io  CHAPTER  I 

of  a  much  more  complex  kind.  It  consisted  largely,  for  example,  in 
written  or  spoken  utterances,  coming  through  the  hand  or  voice  of  living 
men,  but  claiming  to  proceed  from  a  disembodied  source.  To  these 
utterances,  as  a  whole,  no  satisfactory  criterion  had  ever  been  applied. 

In  considering  cases  of  this  kind,  then,  it  became  gradually  plain  to 
me  that  before  we  could  safely  mark  off  any  group  of  manifestations  as 
definitely  implying  an  influence  from  beyond  the  grave,  there  was  need  of 
a  more  searching  review  of  the  capacities  of  man's  incarnate  personality 
than  psychologists  unfamiliar  with  this  new  evidence  had  thought  it  worth 
their  while  to  undertake. 

It  was  only  slowly,  and  as  it  were  of  necessity,  that  I  embarked  on  a 
task  which  needed  for  its  proper  accomplishment  a  knowledge  and  training 
far  beyond  what  I  could  claim.  The  very  inadequate  sketch  which  has 
resulted  from  my  efforts  is  even  in  its  author's  view  no  more  than  pre- 
paratory and  precursive  to  the  fuller  and  sounder  treatment  of  the  same 
subject  which  I  doubt  not  that  the  new  century  will  receive  from  more 
competent  hands.  The  truest  success  of  this  book  will  lie  in  its  rapid 
supersession  by  a  better.  For  this  will  show  that  at  least  I  have  not  erred 
in  supposing  that  a  serious  treatise  on  these  topics  is  nothing  else  than 
the  inevitable  complement  and  conclusion  of  the  slow  process  by  which 
man  has  brought  under  the  domain  of  science  every  group  of  attainable 
phenomena  in  turn  —  every  group  save  this. 

Let  me  then  without  further  preamble  embark  upon  that  somewhat 
detailed  survey  of  human  faculty,  as  manifested  during  various  phases 
of  human  personality,  which  is  needful  in  order  to  throw  fresh  light  on 
these  unfamiliar  themes.  My  discussion,  I  may  say  at  once,  will  avoid 
metaphysics  as  carefully  as  it  will  avoid  theology.  I  avoid  theology,  as 
already  explained,  because  I  consider  that  in  arguments  founded  upon 
experiment  and  observation  I  have  no  right  to  appeal  for  support  to  tradi- 
tional or  subjective  considerations,  however  important.  For  somewhat 
similar  reasons  I  do  not  desire  to  introduce  the  idea  of  personality  with 
any  historical  resume  of  the  philosophical  opinions  which  have  been  held 
by  various  thinkers  in  the  past,  nor  myself  to  speculate  on  matters  lying 
beyond  the  possible  field  of  objective  proof.  I  shall  merely  for  the  sake  of 
clearness  begin  by  the  briefest  possible  statement  of  two  views  of  human 
personality  which  cannot  be  ignored,  namely,  the  old-fashioned  or  com- 
mon-sense view  thereof,  which  is  still  held  by  the  mass  of  mankind,  and 
the  newer  view  of  experimental  psychology,  bringing  out  that  composite 
or  "colonial"  character  which  on  a  close  examination  every  personality 
of  men  or  animals  is  seen  to  wear. 


INTRODUCTION  n 

The  following  passage,  taken  from  a  work  once  of  much  note,  Reid's 
"Essay  on  the  Intellectual  Powers  of  Man,"  expresses  the  simple  primd 
jacie  view  with  care  and  precision,  yet  with  no  marked  impress  of  any  one 
philosophical  school: 

The  conviction  which  every  man  has  of  his  identity,  as  far  back  as 
his  memory  reaches,  needs  no  aid  of  philosophy  to  strengthen  it;  and  no 
philosophy  can  weaken  it  without  first  producing  some  degree  of  in- 
sanity. .  .  .  My  personal  identity,  therefore,  implies  the  continued  exist- 
ence of  that  indivisible  thing  which  I  call  myself.  Whatever  this  self 
may  be,  it  is  something  which  thinks,  and  deliberates,  and  resolves,  and 
acts,  and  suffers.  I  am  not  thought,  I  am  not  action,  I  am  not  feeling; 
I  am  something  that  thinks,  and  acts,  and  suffers.  My  thoughts  and 
actions  and  feelings  change  every  moment;  they  have  no  continued,  but 
a  successive  existence;  but  that  self  or  /,  to  which  they  belong,  is  perma- 
nent, and  has  the  same  relation  to  all  succeeding  thoughts,  actions,  and 
feelings  which  I  call  mine.  .  .  .  The  identity  of  a  person  is  a  perfect 
identity;  wherever  it  is  real  it  admits  of  no  degrees;  and  it  is  impossible 
that  a  person  should  be  in  part  the  same  and  in  part  different,  because 
a  person  is  &  monad,  and  is  not  divisible  into  parts.  Identity,  when  ap- 
plied to  persons,  has  no  ambiguity,  and  admits  not  of  degrees,  or  of  more 
and  less.  It  is  the  foundation  of  all  rights  and  obligations,  and  of  all 
accountableness;  and  the  notion  of  it  is  fixed  and  precise. 

Contrast  with  this  the  passage  with  which  M.  Ribot  concludes  his 
essay  on  "Les  Maladies  de  la  Personnalite." 

It  is  the  organism,  with  the  brain,  its  supreme  representative,  which 
constitutes  the  real  personality;  comprising  in  itself  the  remains  of  all 
that  we  have  been  and  the  possibilities  of  all  that  we  shall  be.  The  whole 
individual  character  is  there  inscribed,  with  its  active  and  passive  apti- 
tudes, its  sympathies  and  antipathies,  its  genius,  its  talent  or  its  stupidity, 
its  virtues  and  its  vices,  its  torpor  or  its  activity.  The  part  thereof  which 
emerges  into  consciousness  is  little  compared  with  what  remains  buried, 
but  operative  nevertheless.  The  conscious  personality  is  never  more 
than  a  small  fraction  of  the  psychical  personality.  The  unity  of  the 
Ego  is  not  therefore  the  unity  of  a  single  entity  diffusing  itself  among 
multiple  phenomena;  it  is  the  co-ordmation  of  a  certain  number  of  states 
perpetually  renascent,  and  having  for  their  sole  common  basis  the  vague 
feeling  of  our  body.  This  unity  does  not  diffuse  itself  downwards,  but 
is  aggregated  by  ascent  from  below;  it  is  not  an  initial  but  a  terminal  point. 

Does  then  this  perfect  unity  really  exist  ?  In  the  rigorous,  the  mathe- 
matical sense,  assuredly  it  does  not.  In  a  relative  sense  it  is  met  with, 
—  rarely  and  for  a  moment.  When  a  good  marksman  takes  aim,  or  a 
skilful  surgeon  operates,  his  whole  body  and  mind  converge  towards  a 
single  act.  But  note  the  result;  under  those  conditions  the  sentiment 
of  real  personality  disappears,  for  the  conscious  individual  is  simplified 


12  CHAPTER   I 

into  a  single  idea,  and  the  personal  sentiment  is  excluded  by  the  com- 
plete unification  of  consciousness.  We  thus  return  by  another  route  to 
the  same  conclusion;  the  Self  is  a  co-ordination.  It  oscillates  between 
two  extremes  at  each  of  which  it  ceases  to  exist;  —  absolute  unity  and 
absolute  incoherence. 

The  last  word  of  all  this  is  that  since  the  consensus  of  consciousness 
is  subordinated  to  the  consensus  of  the  organism,  the  problem  of  the 
unity  of  the  Ego  is  in  its  ultimate  form  a  problem  of  Biology.  Let  Biology 
explain, .  if  it  can,  the  genesis  of  organisms  and  the  solidarity  of  their 
constituent  parts.  The  psychological  explanation  must  needs  follow  on 
the  same  track. 

Here,  then,  we  have  two  clear  and  definite  views,  —  supported,  the 
one  by  our  inmost  consciousness,  the  other  by  unanswerable  observation 
and  inference,  —  yet  apparently  incompatible  the  one  with  the  other. 
And  in  fact  by  most  writers  they  have  been  felt  and  acknowledged  to  be 
even  hopelessly  incompatible.  The  supporters  of  the  view  that  "The  Self 
is  a  co-ordination,"  —  and  this,  I  need  hardly  say,  is  now  the  view  preva- 
lent among  experimental  psychologists,  —  have  frankly  given  up  any 
notion  of  an  underlying  unity,  —  of  a  life  independent  of  the  organism,  — 
in  a  word,  of  a  human  soul.  The  supporters  of  the  unity  of  the  Ego,  on 
the  other  hand,  if  they  have  not  been  able  to  be  equally  explicit  in  denying 
the  opposite  view,  have  made  up  for  this  by  the  thorough-going  way  in 
which  they  have  ignored  it.  I  know  of  no  source  from  which  valid  help 
has  been  offered  towards  the  reconcilement  of  the  two  opposing  systems 
in  a  profounder  synthesis.  If  I  believe  —  as  I  do  believe  —  that  in  the 
present  work  some  help  in  this  direction  is  actually  given,  this  certainly 
does  not  mean  that  I  suppose  myself  capable  of  stitching  the  threadbare 
metaphysical  arguments  into  a  more  stable  fabric.  It  simply  means  that 
certain  fresh  evidence  can  now  be  adduced,  which  has  the  effect  of  showing 
the  case  on  each  side  in  a  novel  light ;  —  nay,  even  of  closing  the  immediate 
controversy  by  a  judgment  more  decisively  in  favour  of  both  parties  than 
either  could  have  expected.  On  the  one  side,  and  in  favour  of  the  co- 
ordinators, —  all  their  analysis  of  the  Self  into  its  constituent  elements, 
all  that  they  urge  of  positive  observation,  of  objective  experiment,  must  — 
as  I  shall  maintain  on  the  strength  of  the  new  facts  which  I  shall  adduce 
—  be  unreservedly  conceded.  Let  them  push  their  analysis  as  far  as  they 
like,  —  let  them  get  down,  if  they  can,  to  those  ultimate  infinitesimal 
psychical  elements  from  which  is  upbuilt  the  complex,  the  composite,  the 
"colonial"  structure  and  constitution  of  man.  All  this  may  well  be  valid 
and  important  work.  It  is  only  on  their  negative  side  that  the  conclusions 
of  this  school  need  a  complete  overhauling.     Deeper,  bolder  inquiry  along 


INTRODUCTION  13 

their  own  line  shows  that  they  have  erred  when  they  asserted  that  analysis 
showed  no  trace  of  faculty  beyond  such  as  the  life  of  earth  —  as  they  con- 
ceive it  —  could  foster,  or  the  environment  of  earth  employ.  For  in  reality 
analysis  shows  traces  of  faculty  which  this  material  or  planetary  life  could 
not  have  called  into  being,  and  whose  exercise  even  here  and  now  involves 
and  necessitates  the  existence  of  a  spiritual  world. 

On  the  other  side,  and  in  favour  of  the  partisans  of  the  unity  of  the 
Ego,  the  effect  of  the  new  evidence  is  to  raise  their  claim  to  a  far  higher 
ground,  and  to  substantiate  it  for  the  first  time  with  the  strongest  pre- 
sumptive proof  which  can  be  imagined  for  it ;  —  a  proof,  namely,  that  the 
Ego  can  and  does  survive  —  not  only  the  minor  disintegrations  which 
affect  it  during  earth-life  —  but  the  crowning  disintegration  of  bodily  death. 
In  view  of  this  unhoped-for  ratification  of  their  highest  dream,  they  may 
be  more  than  content  to  surrender  as  untenable  the  far  narrower  concep- 
tion of  the  unitary  Self  which  was  all  that  "common-sense  philosophies " 
had  ventured  to  claim.  The  " conscious  Self"  of  each  of  us,  as  we  call  it, 
—  the  empirical,  the  supraliminal  Self,  as  I  should  prefer  to  say,  —  does 
not  comprise  the  whole  of  the  consciousness  or  of  the  faculty  within  us. 
There  exists  a  more  comprehensive  consciousness,  a  profounder  faculty, 
which  for  the  most  part  remains  potential  only  so  far  as  regards  the  life  of 
earth,  but  from  which  the  consciousness  and  the  faculty  of  earth-life  are 
mere  selections,  and  which  reasserts  itself  in  its  plenitude  after  the  libera- 
ting change  of  death. 

Towards  this  conclusion,  which  assumed  for  me  something  like  its 
present  shape  some  fourteen  years  since,1  a  long  series  of  tentative  specu- 
lations, based  on  gradually  accruing  evidence,  has  slowly  conducted  me. 
The  conception  is  one  which  has  hitherto  been  regarded  as  purely  mys- 
tical; and  if  I  endeavour  to  plant  it  upon  a  scientific  basis  I  certainly  shall 
not  succeed  in  stating  it  in  its  final  terms  or  in  supporting  it  with  the  best 
arguments  which  longer  experience  will  suggest.  Its  validity,  indeed, 
will  be  impressed  —  if  at  all  —  upon  the  reader  only  by  the  successive 
study  of  the  various  kinds  of  evidence  to  which  this  book  will  refer  him. 

Yet  so  far  as  the  initial  possibility  or  plausibility  of  such  a  widened 
conception  of  human  consciousness  is  concerned;  —  and  this  is  all  which 
can  be  dealt  with  at  this  moment  of  its  first  introduction;  —  I  have  not 
seen  in  such  criticism  as  has  hitherto  been  bestowed  upon  my  theory  any 
very  weighty  demurrer.2 

1  See,  for  instance,  Proceedings  of  the  Society  for  Psychical  Research  (henceforth 
in  this  book  referred  to  as  the  S.P.R.),  vol.  iv.  p.  256,  Jan.  1887. 

2  See,  however,  an  article  in  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  xi.  pp.  317  to  325,  entitled 


i4  CHAPTER   I 

"  Normally  at  least,"  says  one  critic,  summarising  in  a  few  words 
the  ordinary  view,  "all  the  consciousness  we  have  at  any  moment  cor- 
responds to  all  the  activity  which  is  going  on  at  that  moment  in  the  brain. 
There  is  one  unitary  conscious  state  accompanying  all  the  simultaneous 
brain  excitations  together,  and  each  single  part  of  the  brain-process  con- 
tributes something  to  its  nature.  None  of  the  brain-processes  split  them- 
selves off  from  the  rest  and  have  a  separate  consciousness  of  their  own." 
This  is,  no  doubt,  the  apparent  dictum  of  consciousness,  but  it  is  nothing 
more.  And  the  dicta  of  consciousness  have  already  been  shown  to  need 
correction  in  so  many  ways  which  the  ordinary  observer  could  never  have 
anticipated  that  we  have  surely  no  right  to  trust  consciousness,  so  to  say,  a 
step  further  than  we  can  feel  it,  —  to  hold  that  anything  whatever  —  even  a 
separate  consciousness  in  our  own  organisms  —  can  be  proved  not  to  exist 
by  the  mere  fact  that  we  —  as  we  know  ourselves  —  are  not  aware  of  it. 

But  indeed  this  claim  to  a  unitary  consciousness  tends  to  become  less 
forcible  as  it  is  more  scientifically  expressed.  It  rests  on  the  plain  man's 
conviction  that  there  is  only  one  of  him;  and  this  conviction  the  experimental 
psychologist  is  always  tending  to  weaken  or  narrow  by  the  admission  of 
coexistent  localised  degrees  of  consciousness  in  the  brain,  which  are  at  any 
rate  not  obviously  reducible  to  a  single  state.  Even  those  who  would  stop 
far  short  of  my  own  position  find  it  needful  to  resort  to  metaphors  of  their 
own  to  express  the  different  streams  of  " awareness"  which  we  all  feel  to 
be  habitually  coexistent  within  us.  They  speak  of  " fringes"  of  ordinary 
consciousness;  of  " marginal"  associations;  of  the  occasional  perception 
of  " currents  of  low  intensity."  These  metaphors  may  all  of  them  be  of 
use,  in  a  region  where  metaphor  is  our  only  mode  of  expression;  but  none 
of  them  covers  all  the  facts  now  collected.  And  on  the  other  side,  I  need 
not  say,  are  plenty  of  phrases  which  beg  the  question  of  soul  and  body,  or 
of  the  man's  own  spirit  and  external  spirits,  in  no  scientific  fashion.  There 
seems  to  be  need  of  a  term  of  wider  application,  which  shall  make  as  few 
assumptions  as  possible.    Nor  is  such  a  term  difficult  to  find. 

The  idea  of  a  threshold  (limen,  Schwelle),  of  consciousness;  —  of  a  level 
above  which  sensation  or  thought  must  rise  before  it  can  enter  into  our 
conscious  life;  —  is  a  simple  and  familiar  one.  The  word  subliminal,  — 
meaning  "  beneath  that  threshold,"  —  has  already  been  used  to  define  those 
sensations  which  are  too  feeble  to  be  individually  recognised.  I  propose 
to  extend  the  meaning  of  the  term,  so  as  to  make  it  cover  all  that  takes 
place  beneath  the  ordinary  threshold,  or  say,  if  preferred,  outside  the 

"Subliminal  Self  or  Unconscious  Cerebration,"  by  Mr.  A.  H.  Pierce,  of  Harvard 
University,  with  a  reply  by  Mr.  F.  Podmore. 


INTRODUCTION  15 

ordinary  margin  of  consciousness;  —  not  only  those  faint  stimulations 
whose  very  faintness  keeps  them  submerged,  but  much  else  which  psy- 
chology as  yet  scarcely  recognises;  sensations,  thoughts,  emotions,  which 
may  be  strong,  definite,  and  independent,  but  which,  by  the  original  con- 
stitution of  our  being,  seldom  emerge  into  that  supraliminal  current  of 
consciousness  which  we  habitually  identify  with  ourselves.  Perceiving  (as 
this  book  will  try  to  show)  that  these  submerged  thoughts  and  emotions 
possess  the  characteristics  which  we  associate  with  conscious  life,  I  feel 
bound  to  speak  of  a  subliminal  or  ultra-marginal  consciousness,  —  a  con- 
sciousness which  we  shall  see,  for  instance,  uttering  or  writing  sentences 
quite  as  complex  and  coherent  as  the  supraliminal  consciousness  could 
make  them.  Perceiving  further  that  this  conscious  life  beneath  the  thresh- 
hold  or  beyond  the  margin  seems  to  be  no  discontinuous  or  intermittent 
thing;  that  not  only  are  these  isolated  subliminal  processes  comparable 
with  isolated  supraliminal  processes  (as  when  a  problem  is  solved  by  some 
unknown  procedure  in  a  dream),  but  that  there  also  is  a  continuous  sub- 
liminal chain  of  memory  (or  more  chains  than  one)  involving  just  that 
kind  of  individual  and  persistent  revival  of  old  impressions,  and  response 
to  new  ones,  which  we  commonly  call  a  Self,  —  I  find  it  permissible  and 
convenient  to  speak  of  subliminal  Selves,  or  more  briefly  of  a  subliminal 
Self.  I  do  not  indeed  by  using  this  term  assume  that  there  are  two  cor- 
relative and  parallel  selves  existing  always  within  each  of  us.  Rather 
I  mean  by  the  subliminal  Self  that  part  of  the  Self  which  is  commonly 
subliminal;  and  I  conceive  that  there  may  be,  —  not  only  co-operations 
between  these  quasi-independent  trains  of  thought,  —  but  also  upheavals 
and  alternations  of  personality  of  many  kinds,  so  that  what  was  once 
below  the  surface  may  for  a  time,  or  permanently,  rise  above  it.  And 
I  conceive  also  that  no  Self  of  which  we  can  here  have  cognisance  is  in 
reality  more  than  a  fragment  of  a  larger  Self,  —  revealed  in  a  fashion  at 
once  shifting  and  limited  through  an  organism  not  so  framed  as  to  afford 
it  full  manifestation. 

Now  this  hypothesis  is  exposed  manifestly  to  two  main  forms  of  attack, 
which  to  a  certain  extent  neutralise  each  other.  On  the  one  hand  it  has 
been  attacked,  as  has  already  been  indicated,  as  being  too  elaborate  for 
the  facts,  —  as  endowing  transitory  moments  of  subconscious  intelligence 
with  more  continuity  and  independence  than  they  really  possess.  These 
ripples  over  the  threshold,  it  may  be  said,  can  be  explained  by  the  wind 
of  circumstance,  without  assuming  springs  or  currents  in  the  personality 
deep  below. 

But  soon  we  shall  come  upon  a  group  of  phenomena  which  this  view 


16  CHAPTER   I 

will  by  no  means  meet.  For  we  shall  find  that  the  subliminal  uprushes,  — 
the  impulses  or  communications  which  reach  our  emergent  from  our 
submerged  selves,  —  are  (in  spite  of  their  miscellaneousness)  often  charac- 
teristically different  in  quality  from  any  element  known  to  our  ordinary 
supraliminal  life.  They  are  different  in  a  way  which  implies  faculty  of 
which  we  have  had  no  previous  knowledge,  operating  in  an  environment 
of  which  hitherto  we  have  been  wholly  unaware.  This  broad  statement  it  is 
of  course  the  purpose  of  my  whole  work  to  justify.  Assuming  its  truth  here 
for  argument's  sake,  we  see  at  once  that  the  problem  of  the  hidden  self 
entirely  changes  its  aspect.  Telepathy  and  telaesthesia  —  the  perception  of 
distant  thoughts  and  of  distant  scenes  without  the  agency  of  the  recognised 
organs  of  sense ;  —  those  faculties  suggest  either  incalculable  extension  of 
our  own  mental  powers,  or  else  the  influence  upon  us  of  minds  freer  and 
less  trammelled  than  our  own.  And  this  second  hypothesis, — which  would 
explain  by  the  agency  of  discarnate  minds,  or  spirits,  all  these  supernormal 
phenomena,  —  does  at  first  sight  simplify  the  problem,  and  has  by  Mr. 
A.  R.  Wallace  and  others  been  pushed  so  far  as  to  remove  all  need  of  what 
he  deems  the  gratuitous  and  cumbrous  hypothesis  of  a  subliminal  self. 

I  believe,  indeed,  that  it  will  become  plain  as  we  proceed  that  some 
such  hypothesis  as  this,  —  of  almost  continuous  spirit-intervention  and 
spirit-guidance,  —  is  at  once  rendered  necessary  if  the  subliminal  faculties 
for  which  I  argue  are  denied  to  man.  And  my  conception  of  a  subliminal 
self  will  thus  appear,  not  as  an  extravagant  and  needless,  but  as  a  limiting 
and  rationalising  hypothesis,  when  it  is  applied  to  phenomena  which  at 
first  sight  suggest  Mr.  Wallace's  extremer  view,  but  which  I  explain  by  the 
action  of  man's  own  spirit,  without  invoking  spirits  external  to  himself. 
I  do  not  indeed  say  that  the  explanation  here  suggested  is  applicable  in  all 
cases,  or  to  the  complete  exclusion  of  the  spirit-hypothesis.  On  the  con- 
trary, the  one  view  gives  support  to  the  other.  For  these  faculties  of  distant 
communication  exist  none  the  less,  even  though  we  should  refer  them  to 
our  own  subliminal  selves.  We  can,  in  that  case,  affect  each  other  at  a 
distance,  telepathically ;  —  and  if  our  incarnate  spirits  can  act  thus  in  at 
least  apparent  independence  of  the  fleshly  body,  the  presumption  is  strong 
that  other  spirits  may  exist  independently  of  the  body,  and  may  affect  us 
in  similar  manner. 

The  much-debated  hypothesis  of  spirit-intervention,  in  short,  still  looms 
behind  the  hypothesis  of  the  subliminal  Self;  but  that  intermediate  hypo- 
thesis should,  I  think,  in  this  early  stage  of  what  must  be  a  long  inquiry, 
prove  useful  to  the  partisans  of  either  side.  For  those  who  are  altogether 
unwilling  to  admit  the  action  of  agencies  other  than  the  spirits  of  living 


INTRODUCTION  17 

men,  it  will  be  needful  to  form  as  high  an  estimate  as  possible  of  the  fac- 
ulties held  in  reserve  by  these  spirits  while  still  in  the  flesh.  For  those, 
on  the  other  hand,  who  believe  in  the  influence  of  discarnate  spirits,  this 
scheme  affords  a  path  of  transition,  and  as  it  were  a  provisional  intelli- 
gibility. 

These  far-reaching  speculations  make  the  element  of  keenest  interest 
in  the  inquiry  which  follows.  But  even  apart  from  its  possible  bearing 
on  a  future  life,  the  further  study  of  our  submerged  mentation,  —  of  the 
processes  within  us  of  which  we  catch  only  indirect,  and  as  it  were,  re- 
fracted glimpses,  —  seems  at  this  time  especially  called  for  by  the  trend 
of  modern  research.  For  of  late  years  we  have  realised  more  and  more 
fully  upon  how  shifting  and  complex  a  foundation  of  ancestral  experience 
each  individual  life  is  based.  In  recapitulation,  in  summary,  in  symbol, 
we  retraverse,  from  the  embryo  to  the  corpse,  the  history  of  life  on  earth 
for  millions  of  years.  During  our  self-adaptation  to  continually  wider 
environments,  there  may  probably  have  been  a  continual  displacement  of 
the  threshold  of  consciousness;  —  involving  the  lapse  and  submergence 
of  much  that  once  floated  in  the  main  stream  of  our  being.  Our  conscious- 
ness at  any  given  stage  of  our  evolution  is  but  the  phosphorescent  ripple 
on  an  unsounded  sea.  And,  like  the  ripple,  it  is  not  only  superficial  but 
manifold.  Our  psychical  unity  is  federative  and  unstable;  it  has  arisen 
from  irregular  accretions  in  the  remote  past;  it  consists  even  now  only  in 
the  limited  collaboration  of  multiple  groups.  These  discontinuities  and 
incoherences  in  the  Ego  the  elder  psychologists  managed  to  ignore.  Yet 
infancy,  idiocy,  sleep,  insanity,  decay;  —  these  breaks  and  stagnancies  in 
the  conscious  stream  were  always  present  to  show  us,  even  more  forcibly 
than  more  delicate  analyses  show  us  now,  that  the  first  obvious  conception 
of  man's  continuous  and  unitary  personality  was  wholly  insecure;  and 
that  if  indeed  a  soul  inspired  the  body,  that  soul  must  be  sought  for  far 
beneath  these  bodily  conditions  by  which  its  self-manifestation  was  clouded 
and  obscured. 

The  difference  between  older  and  newer  conceptions  of  the  unifying 
principle  or  soul  (if  soul  there  be)  in  man,  considered  as  manifesting 
through  corporeal  limitations,  will  thus  resemble  the  difference  between 
the  older  and  newer  conceptions  of  the  way  in  which  the  sun  reveals 
himself  to  our  senses.  Night  and  storm-cloud  and  eclipse  men  have  known 
from  the  earliest  ages;  but  now  they  know  that  even  at  noonday  the  sun- 
beam which  reaches  them,  when  fanned  out  into  a  spectrum,  is  barred 
with  belts  and  lines  of  varying  darkness ;  —  while  they  have  learnt  also 
that  where  at  either  end  the  spectrum  fades  out  into  what  for  us  is  black- 


18  CHAPTER   I 

ness,  there  stretches  onwards  in  reality  an  undiscovered  illimitable 
ray. 

It  will  be  convenient  for  future  reference  if  I  draw  out  this  parallel 
somewhat  more  fully.  I  compare,  then,  man's  gradual  progress  in  self- 
knowledge  to  his  gradual  decipherment  of  the  nature  and  meaning  of  the 
sunshine  which  reaches  him  as  light  and  heat  indiscernibly  intermingled. 
So  also  Life  and  Consciousness  —  the  sense  of  a  world  within  him  and  a 
world  without  —  come  to  the  child  indiscernibly  intermingled  in  a  per- 
vading glow.  Optical  analysis  splits  up  the  white  ray  into  the  various 
coloured  rays  which  compose  it.  Philosophical  analysis  in  like  manner 
splits  up  the  vague  consciousness  of  the  child  into  many  faculties ;  —  into 
the  various  external  senses,  the  various  modes  of  thought  within.  This 
has  been  the  task  of  descriptive  and  introspective  psychology.  Experi- 
mental psychology  is  adding  a  further  refinement.  In  the  sun's  spectrum, 
and  in  stellar  spectra,  are  many  dark  lines  or  bands,  due  to  the  absorption 
of  certain  rays  by  certain  vapours  in  the  atmosphere  of  sun  or  stars  or  earth. 
And  similarly  in  the  range  of  spectrum  of  our  own  sensation  and  faculty 
there  are  many  inequalities  —  permanent  and  temporary  —  of  brightness 
and  definition.  Our  mental  atmosphere  is  clouded  by  vapours  and  illu- 
mined by  fires,  and  is  clouded  and  illumined  differently  at  different  times. 
The  psychologist  who  observes,  say,  how  his  reaction-times  are  modified 
by  alcohol  is  like  the  physicist  who  observes  what  lines  are  darkened  by  the 
interposition  of  a  special  gas.  Our  knowledge  of  our  conscious  spectrum 
is  thus  becoming  continually  more  accurate  and  detailed. 

But  turning  back  once  more  to  the  physical  side  of  our  simile,  we 
observe  that  our  knowledge  of  the  visible  solar  spectrum,  however  minute, 
is  but  an  introduction  to  the  knowledge  which  we  hope  ultimately  to  attain 
of  the  sun's  rays.  The  limits  of  our  spectrum  do  not  inhere  in  the  sun 
that  shines,  but  in  the  eye  that  marks  his  shining.  Beyond  each  end  of 
that  prismatic  ribbon  are  ether-waves  of  which  our  retina  takes  no  cog- 
nisance. Beyond  the  red  end  come  waves  whose  potency  we  still  recog- 
nise, but  as  heat  and  not  as  light.  Beyond  the  violet  end  are  waves  still 
more  mysterious;  whose  very  existence  man  for  ages  never  suspected,  and 
whose  intimate  potencies  are  still  but  obscurely  known.  Even  thus,  I 
venture  to  affirm,  beyond  each  end  of  our  conscious  spectrum  extends  a 
range  of  faculty  and  perception,  exceeding  the  known  range,  but  as  yet 
indistinctly  guessed.  The  artifices  of  the  modern  physicist  have  extended 
far  in  each  direction  the  visible  spectrum  known  to  Newton.  It  is  for  the 
modern  psychologist  to  discover  artifices  which  may  extend  in  each  direc- 
tion the  conscious  spectrum  as  known  to  Plato  or  to  Kant.    The  phenomena 


INTRODUCTION  19 

cited  in  this  work  carry  us,  one  may  say,  as  far  onwards  as  fluorescence 
carries  us  beyond  the  violet  end.  The  "X  rays"  of  the  psychical  spec- 
trum remain  for  a  later  age  to  discover. 

Our  simile,  indeed  —  be  it  once  for  all  noted  —  is  a  most  imperfect  one. 
The  range  of  human  faculty  cannot  be  truly  expressed  in  any  linear  form. 
Even  a  three-dimensional  scheme,  —  a  radiation  of  faculties  from  a  centre 
of  life,  —  would  ill  render  its  complexity.  Yet  something  of  clearness  will 
be  gained  by  even  this  rudimentary  mental  picture ;  —  representing  con- 
scious human  faculty  as  a  linear  spectrum  whose  red  rays  begin  where 
voluntary  muscular  control  and  organic  sensation  begin,  and  whose  violet 
rays  fade  away  at  the  point  at  which  man's  highest  strain  of  thought  or 
imagination  merges  into  reverie  or  ecstasy. 

At  both  ends  of  this  spectrum  I  believe  that  our  evidence  indicates  a 
momentous  prolongation.  Beyond  the  red  end,  of  course,  we  already  know 
that  vital  faculty  of  some  kind  must  needs  extend.  We  know  that  organic 
processes  are  constantly  taking  place  within  us  which  are  not  subject  to  our 
control,  but  which  make  the  very  foundation  of  our  physical  being.  We 
know  that  the  habitual  limits  of  our  voluntary  action  can  be  far  extended 
under  the  influence  of  strong  excitement.  It  need  not  surprise  us  to  find 
that  appropriate  artifices  —  hypnotism  or  self-suggestion  —  can  carry  the 
power  of  our  will  over  our  organism  to  a  yet  further  point. 

The  faculties  that  lie  beyond  the  violet  end  of  our  psychological  spec- 
trum will  need  more  delicate  exhibition  and  will  command  a  less  ready 
belief.  The  actinic  energy  which  lies  beyond  the  violet  end  of  the  solar 
spectrum  is  less  obviously  influential  in  our  material  world  than  is  the 
dark  heat  which  lies  beyond  the  red  end.  Even  so,  one  may  say,  the 
influence  of  the  ultra-intellectual  or  supernormal  faculties  upon  our  wel- 
fare as  terrene  organisms  is  less  marked  in  common  life  than  the  influence 
of  the  organic  or  subnormal  faculties.  Yet  it  is  that  prolongation  of  our 
spectrum  upon  which  our  gaze  will  need  to  be  most  strenuously  fixed.  It 
is  there  that  we  shall  find  our  inquiry  opening  upon  a  cosmic  prospect,  and 
inciting  us  upon  an  endless  way. 

Even  the  first  stages  of  this  progress  are  long  and  labyrinthine;  and 
it  may  be  useful  to  conclude  this  introductory  chapter  by  a  brief  summary 
of  the  main  tracts  across  which  our  winding  road  must  lie.  It  will  be  my 
object  to  lead  by  transitions  as  varied  and  as  gradual  as  possible  from 
phenomena  held  as  normal  to  phenomena  held  as  supernormal,  but  which 
like  the  rest  are  simply  and  solely  the  inevitable  results  and  manifestations 
of  universal  Law. 

Following  then  on  this  first  or  introductory  chapter  is  one  containing  a 


20  CHAPTER   I 

discussion  of  the  ways  in  which  human  personality  disintegrates  and 
decays.  Alternations  of  personality  and  hysterical  phenomena  generally 
are  in  this  connection  the  most  instructive  to  us. 

In  the  third  chapter  we  utilize  the  insight  thus  gained  and  discuss  the 
line  of  evolution  which  enables  man  to  maintain  and  intensify  his  true 
normality.  What  type  of  man  is  he  to  whom  the  epithet  of  normal,  —  an 
epithet  often  obscure  and  misleading,  —  may  be  most  fitly  applied  ?  I 
claim  that  that  man  shall  be  regarded  as  normal  who  has  the  fullest 
grasp  of  faculties  which  inhere  in  the  whole  race.  Among  these  facul- 
ties I  count  subliminal  as  well  as  supraliminal  powers ;  —  the  mental 
processes  which  take  place  below  the  conscious  threshold  as  well  as 
those  which  take  place  above  it;  and  I  attempt  to  show  that  those  who 
reap  most  advantage  from  this  submerged  mentation  are  men  of  genius. 

The  fourth  chapter  deals  with  the  alternating  phase  through  which 
man's  personality  is  constructed  habitually  to  pass.  I  speak  of  sleep; 
which  I  regard  as  a  phase  of  personality,  adapted  to  maintain  our  exist- 
ence in  the  spiritual  environment,  and  to  draw  from  thence  the  vitality 
of  our  physical  organisms.  In  this  chapter  I  also  discuss  certain  super- 
normal phenomena  which  sometimes  occur  in  the  state  of  sleep. 

The  fifth  chapter  treats  of  hypnotism,  considered  as  an  empirical 
development  of  sleep.  It  will  be  seen  that  hypnotic  suggestion  intensifies 
the  physical  recuperation  of  sleep,  and  aids  the  emergence  of  those  super- 
normal phenomena  which  ordinary  sleep  and  spontaneous  somnambulism 
sometimes  exhibit. 

From  hypnotism  we  pass  on  in  the  sixth  chapter  to  experiments,  less 
familiar  to  the  public  than  those  classed  as  hypnotic,  but  which  give  a  still 
further  insight  into  our  subliminal  faculty.  With  these  experiments  are 
intermingled  many  spontaneous  phenomena;  and  the  chapter  will  take 
up  and  continue  the  spontaneous  phenomena  of  Chapters  III.  and  IV.  as 
well  as  the  experiments  of  Chapter  V.  Its  theme  will  be  the  messages 
which  the  subliminal  self  sends  up  to  the  supraliminal  in  the  form  of  sensory 
hallucinations:  — -  the  visions  fashioned  internally,  but  manifested  not  to 
the  inward  eye  alone;  the  voices  which  repeat  as  though  in  audible  tones 
the  utterance  of  the  self  within. 

These  sensory  automatisms,  as  I  have  termed  them,  are  very  often 
telepathic  —  involve,  that  is  to  say,  the  transmission  of  ideas  and  sensations 
from  one  mind  to  another  without  the  agency  of  the  recognised  organs 
of  sense.  Nor  would  it  seem  that  such  transmission  need  necessarily 
cease  with  the  bodily  death  of  the  transmitting  agent.  In  the  seventh 
chapter  evidence   is  brought   forward  to   show   that    those  who   com- 


INTRODUCTION  21 

municated  with  us  telepathically  in  this  world  may  communicate  with 
us  telepathically  from  the  other.  Thus  phantasms  oj  the  dead  receive  a 
new  meaning  from  observations  of  the  phenomena  occurring  between 
living  men. 

But  besides  the  hallucinatory  hearing  or  picture-seeing  which  we  have 
classed  as  sensory  automatisms,  there  is  another  method  by  which  the 
subliminal  may  communicate  with  the  supraliminal  self. 

In  Chapter  VIII.,  we  consider  in  what  ways  motor  automatism  —  the 
unwilled  activity  of  hand  or  voice  —  may  be  used  as  a  means  of  such 
communication.  Unwilled  writings  and  utterances  furnish  the  oppor- 
tunity for  experiment  more  prolonged  and  continuous  than  the  phantasms 
or  pictures  of  sensory  automatism  can  often  give,  and,  like  them,  may 
sometimes  originate  in  telepathic  impressions  received  by  the  subliminal 
self  from  another  mind.  These  motor  automatisms,  moreover,  as  the  ninth 
chapter  shows,  are  apt  to  become  more  complete,  more  controlling,  than 
sensory  automatisms.  They  may  lead  on,  in  some  cases,  to  the  apparent 
possession  of  the  sensitive  by  some  extraneous  spirit,  who  seems  to  write 
and  talk  through  the  sensitive's  organism,  giving  evidence  of  his  own  sur- 
viving identity. 

The  reader  who  may  feel  disposed  to  give  his  adhesion  to  this  culmina- 
ting group  of  the  long  series  of  evidences  which  have  pointed  with  more 
and  more  clearness  to  the  survival  of  human  personality,  and  to  the  pos- 
sibility for  men  on  earth  of  actual  commerce  with  a  world  beyond,  may 
feel  perhaps  that  the  desiderium  orbis  catholici,  the  intimate  and  universal 
hope  of  every  generation  of  men,  has  never  till  this  day  approached  so  near 
to  fulfilment.  There  has  never  been  so  fair  a  prospect  for  Life  and  Love. 
But  the  goal  to  which  we  tend  is  not  an  ideal  of  personal  happiness  alone. 
The  anticipation  of  our  own  future  is  but  one  element  in  the  prospect 
which  opens  to  us  now.  Our  inquiry  has  broadened  into  a  wider  scope. 
The  point  from  which  we  started  was  an  analysis  of  the  latent  faculties  of 
man.  The  point  towards  which  our  argument  has  carried  us  is  the  exist- 
ence of  a  spiritual  environment  in  which  those  faculties  operate,  and  of 
unseen  neighbours  who  speak  to  us  thence  with  slowly  gathering  power. 
Deep  in  this  spiritual  environment  the  cosmic  secret  lies.  It  is  our  busi- 
ness to  collect  the  smallest  indications;  to  carry  out  from  this  treasury  of 
Rhampsinitus  so  much  as  our  bare  hands  can  steal  away.  We  have 
won  our  scraps  of  spiritual  experience,  our  messages  from  behind  the 
veil;  we  can  try  them  in  their  connection  with  certain  enigmas  which 
philosophy  hardly  hoped  to  be  able  to  put  to  proof.  Can  we,  for  in- 
stance, learn  anything,  —  to  begin  with  fundamental   problems,  —  of 


22  CHAPTER   I 

the  relation  of  spiritual  phenomena  to  Space,  to  Time,  to  the  material 
world  ? 

As  to  the  idea  of  Space,  the  evidence  which  will  have  been  presented 
will  enable  us  to  speak  with  perhaps  more  clearness  than  could  have  been 
hoped  for  in  such  a  matter.  Spiritual  life,  we  infer,  is  not  bound  and  con- 
fined by  space-considerations  in  the  same  way  as  the  life  of  earth.  But  in 
what  way  is  that  greater  freedom  attained  ?  It  appears  to  be  attained  by 
the  mere  extension  of  certain  licenses  (so  to  call  them)  permitted  to  our- 
selves. We  on  earth  submit  to  two  familiar  laws  of  the  ordinary  material 
universe.  A  body  can  only  act  where  it  is.  Only  one  body  can  occupy 
the  same  part  of  space  at  the  same  moment.  Applied  to  common  affairs 
these  rules  are  of  plain  construction.  But  once  get  beyond  ponderable 
matter,  —  once  bring  life  and  ether  into  play,  and  definitions  become 
difficult  indeed.  The  orator,  the  poet,  we  say,  can  only  act  where  he  is; 
—  but  where  is  he  ?  He  has  transformed  the  sheet  of  paper  into  a  spiritual 
agency ;  —  nay,  the  mere  memory  of  him  persists  as  a  source  of  energy 
in  other  minds.  Again,  we  may  say  that  no  other  body  can  be  in  the  same 
place  as  this  writing-table;  but  what  of  the  ether?  What  we  have  thus 
far  learnt  of  spiritual  operation  seems  merely  to  extend  these  two  pos- 
sibilities. Telepathy  indefinitely  extends  the  range  of  an  unembodied 
spirit's  potential  presence.  The  interpenetration  of  the  spiritual  with 
the  material  environment  leaves  this  ponderable  planet  unable  to  check 
or  to  hamper  spiritual  presence  or  operation.  Strange  and  new  though 
our  evidence  may  be,  it  needs  at  present  in  its  relation  to  space  nothing 
more  than  an  immense  extension  of  conceptions  which  the  disappearance 
of  earthly  limitations  was  certain  immensely  to  extend. 

How,  then,  does  the  matter  stand  with  regard  to  our  relation  to  Time  ? 
Do  we  find  that  our  new  phenomena  point  to  any  mode  of  understanding 
or  of  transcending  Time  fundamentally  different  from  those  modes  which 
we  have  at  our  command  ? 

In  dealing  with  Time  Past  we  have  memory  and  written  record;  in 
dealing  with  Time  Future  we  have  forethought,  drawing  inferences  from 
the  past. 

Can,  then,  the  spiritual  knowledge  of  Past  and  Future  which  our 
evidence  shows  be  explained  by  assuming  that  these  existing  means  of 
knowledge  are  raised  to  a  higher  power?  Or  are  we  driven  to  postulate 
something  in  the  nature  of  Time  which  is  to  us  inconceivable;  —  some 
co-existence  of  Past  and  Future  in  an  eternal  Now  ?  It  is  plainly  with 
Time  Past  that  we  must  begin  the  inquiry. 

The  knowledge  of  the  past  which  automatic  communications  manifest 


INTRODUCTION 


23 


is  in  most  cases  apparently  referable  to  the  actual  memory  of  persons  still 
existing  beyond  the  tomb.  It  reaches  us  telepathically,  as  from  a  mind  in 
which  remote  scenes  are  still  imprinted.  But  there  are  certain  scenes  which 
are  not  easily  assigned  to  the  individual  memory  of  any  given  spirit.  And 
if  it  be  possible  for  us  to  learn  of  present  facts  by  telaesthesia  as  well  as  by 
telepathy;  —  by  some  direct  supernormal  percipience  without  the  interven- 
tion of  any  other  mind  to  which  the  facts  are  already  known,  —  may  there 
not  be  also  a  retrocognitive  telaesthesia  by  which  we  may  attain  a  direct 
knowledge  of  facts  in  the  past  ? 

Some  conception  of  this  kind  may  possibly  come  nearest  to  the  truth. 
It  may  even  be  that  some  World-Soul  is  perennially  conscious  of  all  its  past ; 
and  that  individual  souls,  as  they  enter  into  deeper  consciousness,  enter 
into  something  which  is  at  once  reminiscence  and  actuality.  But  never- 
theless a  narrower  hypothesis  will  cover  the  actual  cases  with  which  we  have 
to  deal.  Past  facts  are  known  to  men  on  earth  not  from  memory  only,  but 
by  written  record;  and  there  may  be  records,  of  what  kind  we  know  not, 
which  persist  in  the  spiritual  world.  Our  retrocognitions  seem  often  a 
recovery  of  isolated  fragments  of  thought  and  feeling,  pebbles  still  hard 
and  rounded  amid  the  indecipherable  sands  over  which  the  mighty  waters 
are  "rolling  evermore.,' 

When  we  look  from  Time  Past  to  Time  Future  we  are  confronted  with 
essentially  the  same  problems,  though  in  a  still  more  perplexing  form,  and 
with  the  world-old  mystery  of  Free  Will  versus  Necessity  looming  in  the 
background.  Again  we  find  that,  just  as  individual  memory  would  serve 
to  explain  a  large  proportion  of  Retrocognition,  so  individual  forethought 
—  a  subliminal  forethought,  based  often  on  profound  organic  facts  not 
normally  known  to  us  —  will  explain  a  large  proportion  of  Precognition. 
But  here  again  we  find  also  precognitions  which  transcend  what  seems 
explicable  by  the  foresight  of  any  mind  such  as  we  know ;  and  we  are  tempted 
to  dream  of  a  World-Soul  whose  Future  is  as  present  to  it  as  its  Past.  But 
in  this  speculation  also,  so  vast  and  vague  an  explanation  seems  for  the 
present  beyond  our  needs ;  and  it  is  safer  —  if  aught  be  safe  in  this  region 
which  only  actual  evidence  could  have  emboldened  us  to  approach  —  to 
take  refuge  in  the  conception  of  intelligences  not  infinite^  yet  gifted  with  a 
foresight  which  strangely  transcends  our  own. 

Closely  allied  to  speculations  such  as  these  is  another  speculation, 
more  capable  of  subjection  to  experimental  test,  yet  which  remains  still 
inconclusively  tested,  and  which  has  become  for  many  reasons  a  stumbling- 
block  rather  than  a  corroboration  in  the  spiritual  inquiry.  I  refer  to  the 
question  whether  any  influence  is  exercised  by  spirits  upon  the  gross 


24  CHAPTER   I 

material  world  otherwise  than  through  ordinary  organic  structures.  We 
know  that  the  spirit  of  a  living  man  controls  his  own  organism,  and  we  shall 
see  reason  to  conclude  that  discarnate  spirits  may  also  control,  by  some  form 
of  " possession,"  the  organisms  of  living  persons,  —  may  affect  directly,  that 
is  to  say,  some  portions  of  matter  which  we  call  living,  namely,  the  brain 
of  the  entranced  sensitive.  There  seems  to  me,  then,  no  paradox  in  the 
supposition  that  some  effect  should  be  produced  by  spiritual  agency  — 
possibly  through  the  mediation  of  some  kind  of  energy  derived  from 
living  human  beings  —  upon  inanimate  matter  as  well.  And  I  believe 
that  as  a  fact  such  effects  have  been  observed  and  recorded  in  a  trust- 
worthy manner  by  Sir  W.  Crookes,  the  late  Dr.  Speer,  and  others,  in 
the  cases  especially  of  D.  D.  Home  and  of  W.  Stainton  Moses.  If,  indeed, 
I  call  these  and  certain  other  records  still  inconclusive,  it  is  mainly  on 
account  of  the  mass  of  worthless  narratives  with  which  they  have  been  in 
some  sense  smothered;  the  long  history  of  so-called  investigations  which 
have  consisted  merely  in  an  interchange  of  credulity  and  fraud.  For  the 
present  the  evidence  of  this  kind  which  has  real  value  is  better  presented, 
I  think,  in  separate  records  than  collected  or  discussed  in  any  generalised 
form.  All  that  I  purpose  in  this  work,  therefore,  is  briefly  to  indicate 
the  relation  which  these  "physical  phenomena"  hold  to  the  psychical 
phenomena  with  which  my  book  is  concerned.  Alongside  of  the  faculty 
or  achievement  of  man's  ordinary  or  supraliminal  self  I  shall  demarcate 
the  faculty  or  achievement  which  I  ascribe  to  his  subliminal  self;  and 
alongside  of  this  again  I  shall  arrange  such  few  well-attested  pheno- 
mena as  seem  primd  facie  to  demand  the  physical  intervention  of 
discarnate   intelligences. 

I  have  traced  the  utmost  limits  to  which  any  claim  to  a  scientific  basis 
for  these  inquiries  can  at  present  be  pushed.  Yet  the  subject-matter  has 
not  yet  been  exhausted  of  half  its  significance.  The  conclusions  to  which 
our  evidence  points  are  not  such  as  can  be  discussed  or  dismissed  as  a  mere 
matter  of  speculative  curiosity.  They  affect  every  belief,  every  faculty, 
every  hope  and  aim  of  man;  and  they  affect  him  the  more  intimately  as  his 
interests  grow  more  profound.  Whatever  meaning  be  applied  to  ethics, 
to  philosophy,  to  religion,  the  concern  of  all  these  is  here. 

It  would  have  been  inconsistent  with  my  main  purpose  had  I  interpo- 
lated considerations  of  this  kind  into  the  body  of  this  work.  For  that 
purpose  was  above  all  to  show  that  realms  left  thus  far  to  philosophy  or  to 
religion,  —  too  often  to  mere  superstition  and  idle  dream,  —  might  in  the 
end  be  brought  under  steady  scientific  rule.  I  contend  that  Religion  and 
Science  are  no  separable  or  independent  provinces  of  thought  or  action; 


INTRODUCTION  25 

but  rather  that  each  name  implies  a  different  aspect  of  the  same  ideal;  — 
that  ideal  being  the  completely  normal  reaction  of  the  individual  spirit  to 
the  whole  of  cosmic  law. 

Assuredly  this  deepening  response  of  man's  spirit  to  the  Cosmos  deepen- 
ing round  him  must  be  affected  by  all  the  signals  which  now  are  glimmering 
out  of  night  to  tell  him  of  his  inmost  nature  and  his  endless  fate.  Who  can 
think  that  either  Science  or  Revelation  has  spoken  as  yet  more  than  a  first 
half-comprehended  word?  But  if  in  truth  souls  departed  call  to  us,  it  is 
to  them  that  we  shall  listen  most  of  all.  We  shall  weigh  their  undesigned 
concordances,  we  shall  analyse  the  congruity  of  their  message  with  the 
facts  which  such  a  message  should  explain.  To  some  thoughts  which  may 
thus  be  generated  I  shall  try  to  give  expression  in  an  Epilogue  to  the  present 
work. 


CHAPTER  II 
DISINTEGRATIONS  OF  PERSONALITY 

0Avar6s  £<rriv  6/c6(ra  iyepdivres  dpiofiev,  6ic6(ra  dk  eflSovTes,  tiirvos. 

—  Heraclitus. 

Of  the  race  of  man  we  know  for  certain  that  it  has  been  evolved  through 
many  ages  and  through  countless  forms  of  change.  We  know  for  certain 
that  its  changes  continue  still;  nay,  that  more  causes  of  change  act  upon 
us  in  "fifty  years  of  Europe"  than  in  "a  cycle  of  Cathay."  We  may  rea- 
sonably conjecture  that  the  race  will  continue  to  change  with  increasing 
rapidity,  and  through  a  period  in  comparison  with  which  our  range  of 
recorded  history  shrinks  into  a  moment. 

The  actual  nature  of  these  coming  changes,  indeed,  lies  beyond  our 
imagination.  Many  of  them  are  probably  as  inconceivable  to  us  now  as 
eyesight  would  have  been  to  our  eyeless  ancestors.  All  that  we  can  do  is 
to  note  so  far  as  possible  the  structural  laws  of  our  personality  as  deduced 
from  its  changes  thus  far;  inferring  that  for  some  time  to  come,  at  any  rate, 
its  further  changes  will  proceed  upon  similar  lines. 

I  have  already  (Chapter  I)  indicated  the  general  view  as  to  the  nature 
of  human  personality  which  is  maintained  in  this  work.  I  regard  each 
man  as  at  once  profoundly  unitary  and  almost  infinitely  composite,  as 
inheriting  from  earthly  ancestors  a  multiplex  and  " colonial"  organism  — 
polyzoic  and  perhaps  polypsychic  in  an  extreme  degree ;  but  also  as  ruling 
and  unifying  that  organism  by  a  soul  or  spirit  absolutely  beyond  our  present 
analysis  —  a  soul  which  has  originated  in  a  spiritual  or  metetherial  environ- 
ment; which  even  while  embodied  subsists  in  that  environment;  and  which 
will  still  subsist  therein  after  the  body's  decay. 

It  is,  of  course,  impossible  for  us  to  picture  to  ourselves  the  way  in 
which  the  individual  life  of  each  cell  of  the  body  is  reconciled  with  the 
unity  of  the  central  life  which  controls  the  body  as  a  whole.  But  this 
difficulty  is  not  created  or  intensified  by  the  hypothesis  of  a  separate  and 
persistent  soul.  On  no  hypothesis  can  we  really  understand  the  collabora- 
tic  a  and  subordination  of  the  cell-lives  of  any  multicellular  animal.    It  is 

26 


DISINTEGRATIONS    OF   PERSONALITY       27 

as  mysterious  in  the  starfish  as  it  is  in  Plato;  and  the  " eight  brains  of 
Aurelia,"  with  their  individual  and  their  common  life,  are  as  inconceivable 
as  the  life  of  the  phagocytes  in  the  philosopher's  veins,  in  their  relation  to 
his  central  thought.1 

I  claim,  in  fact,  that  the  ancient  hypothesis  of  an  indwelling  soul,  pos- 
sessing and  using  the  body  as  a  whole,  yet  bearing  a  real,  though  obscure 
relation  to  the  various  more  or  less  apparently  disparate  conscious  group- 
ings manifested  in  connection  with  the  organism  and  in  connection  with 
more  or  less  localised  groups  of  nerve-matter,  is  a  hypothesis  not  more 
perplexing,  not  more  cumbrous,  than  any  other  hypothesis  yet  suggested. 
I  claim  also  that  it  is  conceivably  provable,  —  I  myself  hold  it  as  actually 
proved,  —  by  direct  observation.  I  hold  that  certain  manifestations  of 
central  individualities,  associated  now  or  formerly  with  certain  definite 
organisms,  have  been  observed  in  operation  apart  from  those  organisms, 
both  while  the  organisms  were  still  living,  and  after  they  had  decayed. 
Whether  or  no  this  thesis  be  as  yet  sufficiently  proved,  it  is  at  least  at  vari- 
ance with  no  scientific  principle  nor  established  fact  whatever;  and  it  is 
of  a  nature  which  continued  observation  may  conceivably  establish  to  the 
satisfaction  of  all.  The  negative  thesis,  on  the  other  hand,  is  a  thesis  in 
unstable  equilibrium.  It  cannot  be  absolutely  proved  by  any  number  of 
negative  instances ;  and  it  may  be  absolutely  disproved  by  a  single  positive 
instance.  It  may  have  at  present  a  greater  scientific  currency,  but  it  can 
have  no  real  scientific  authority  as  against  the  view  defended  in  these  pages. 

Leaving  these  questions,  however,  aside  for  the  present,  we  may  agree 
that  in  the  organism  as  we  can  observe  it  in  common  life  we  have  no  com- 
plete or  unchanging  unity,  but  rather  a  complex  hierarchy  of  groups  of 
cells  exercising  vaguely  limited  functions,  and  working  together  with 
rough  precision,  tolerable  harmony,  fair  success.  That  these  powers  ever 
work  perfectly  together  we  have  no  evidence.  Our  feeling  of  health  is  but 
a  rough  haphazard  register  of  what  is  passing  within  us.  Nor  would  it 
ever  be  possible  to  define  a  permanently  ideal  status  in  an  organism  in 
moving  equilibrium,  —  an  organism  which  lives  by  exploding  unstable 
compounds,  and  which  is  constantly  aiming  at  new  ends  at  the  expense  of 
the  old. 

Many  disturbances  and  disintegrations  of  the  personality  must  pre- 
sently fall  to  be  discussed.  But  the  reader  who  may  follow  me  must 
remember  the  point  of  view  from  which  I  am  writing.    The  aim  of  my 

1  The  difficulty  of  conceiving  any  cellular  focus,  either  fixed  or  shifting,  has  actually 
led  some  psychologists  to  demand  a  unifying  principle  which  is  not  cellular,  and  yet 
is  not  a  soul. 


28  CHAPTER  II 

analysis  is  not  to  destroy  but  to  fulfil;  —  or  say,  rather,  my  hope  is  that 
observation  of  the  ways  in  which  the  personality  tends  to  disintegrate  may 
suggest  methods  which  may  tend  on  the  other  hand  to  its  more  complete 
integration. 

Such  improvements  upon  the  natural  conditions  of  the  organism  are  not 
unknown.  Just  as  the  study  of  hysteria  deals  mainly  with  instabilities  in 
the  threshold  of  consciousness,  so  does  the  study  of  zymotic  disease  deal 
mainly  with  instabilities  in  the  constitution  of  the  blood.  The  ordinary 
object  of  the  physician  is  to  check  these  instabilities  when  they  occur;  to 
restore  healthy  blood  in  the  place  of  vitiated.  The  experimental  biologist 
has  a  further  aim.  He  wishes  to  provide  men  with  better  blood  than  nature 
has  bestowed;  to  elicit  from  virus  and  decay  some  element  whose  infusion 
into  the  veins  may  give  immunity  against  microbic  invasion.  As  the  adult 
is  safer  against  such  attacks  than  the  child  by  dint  of  his  more  advanced 
development,  so  is  the  immunised  adult  safer  than  the  common  man.  The 
change  of  his  blood  which  healthy  maturity  has  induced  has  made  him 
safe  against  whooping-cough.  The  change  in  his  blood  which  we  effect 
by  injecting  antitoxin  makes  him  temporarily  safe  against  diphtheria. 
We  have  improved  upon  nature;  —  and  our  artifice  has  been  prophylactic 
by  virtue  of  being  in  a  certain  sense  developmental. 

Even  such,  I  trust,  may  be  the  achievement  of  experimental  psychology 
in  a  later  day.  I  shall  be  well  content  if  in  this  chapter  I  can  give  hints 
for  some  future  colligation  of  such  evolutive  phenomena  as  may  lurk  amid  a 
mass  of  phenomena  mainly  dissolutive  —  phenomena  whose  records  are 
scattered  and  imperfect,  and  have  as  yet  only  in  some  few  directions,  and 
by  quite  recent  writers,  been  collated  or  systematised  on  any  definite  plan. 

The  discussion  of  these  disintegrations  of  personality  needs,  I  think, 
some  little  clearing  of  the  ground  beforehand,  if  it  is  to  avoid  confusion. 
It  will  be  needful  to  speak  of  concurrent  and  alternating  streams  of  con- 
sciousness, —  of  subliminal  and  supraliminal  strata  of  personality  and 
the  like;  —  phrases  which  save  much  trouble  when  used  with  care,  but 
which  need  some  words  of  preliminary  explanation.  It  is  not  easy  to 
realise  that  anything  which  deserves  the  name  of  consciousness  can  be 
going  on  within  us,  apart  from  that  central  stream  of  thought  and  feeling 
with  which  we  identify  ourselves  in  common  life.  Something  of  definition 
is  needed;  —  not  indeed  of  any  formal  or  dogmatic  kind;  —  but  enough  to 
make  clear  the  sense  given  to  such  words  as  consciousness,  memory,  per- 
sonality, in  the  ensuing  pages. 

I  begin,  then,  with  the  obvious  remark  that  when  we  conceive  any  act 
other  than  our  own  as  a  conscious  act,  we  do  so  either  because  we  regard 


DISINTEGRATIONS    OF   PERSONALITY       29 

it  as  complex,  and  therefore  purposive,  or  because  we  perceive  that  it  has 
been  remembered.  Thus  we  call  the  fencer  or  the  chess-player  fully  con- 
scious ;  or,  again,  we  say,  "  The  man  who  seemed  stunned  after  that  blow 
on  the  head  must  really  have  been  conscious  all  the  time;  for  he  afterwards 
recalled  every  incident."  The  memorability  of  an  act  is,  in  fact,  a  better 
proof  of  consciousness  than  its  complexity.  Thus  consciousness  has  been 
denied  both  to  hypnotised  subjects  and  to  dogs;  but  it  is  easier  to  prove 
that  the  hypnotised  subject  is  conscious  than  that  the  dog  is  conscious. 
For  the  hypnotised  subject,  though  he  may  forget  the  incidents  of  the 
trance  when  he  awakes,  will  remember  them  in  the  next  trance;  or  he  may 
be  trained  to  remember  them  in  the  waking  state  also;  while  with  regard 
to  the  dog  we  cannot  decide  from  the  mere  complexity  of  his  actions  how 
far  he  is  conscious  of  their  performance.  With  him,  too,  the  best  line  of 
proof  lies  in  his  obvious  memory  of  past  acts.  And  yet,  although  all  agree 
that  our  own  memory,  broadly  speaking,  proves  our  past  consciousness, 
some  persons  would  not  admit  that  a  dog's  memory  does  so  too.  The 
dog's  organism,  they  would  say,  responds,  no  doubt,  in  a  new  manner  to 
a  second  repetition  of  a  previous  stimulus;  but  this  is  more  or  less  true  of 
all  living  organisms,  or  parts  of  organisms,  even  far  below  what  we  gen- 
erally regard  as  a  conscious  level. 

Reflections  of  this  kind  naturally  lead  to  a  wider  conception  of  con- 
sciousness. It  is  gradually  seen  that  the  earlier  inquiries  which  men  have 
made  about  consciousness  have  been  of  a  merely  ethical  or  legal  char- 
acter; —  have  simply  aimed  at  deciding  whether  at  a  given  moment  a  man 
was  responsible  for  his  acts,  either  to  a  human  or  to  a  divine  tribunal. 
Commonsense  has  seemed  to  encourage  this  method  of  definite  demarca- 
tion; we  judge  practically  either  that  a  man  is  conscious  or  that  he  is  not; 
in  the  experience  of  life  intermediate  states  are  of  little  importance. 

As  soon,  however,  as  the  problem  is  regarded  as  a  psychological  one, 
to  be  decided  by  observation  and  experiment,  these  hard  and  fast  lines 
grow  fainter  and  fainter.  We  come  to  regard  consciousness  as  an  attri- 
bute which  may  possibly  be  present  in  all  kinds  of  varying  degrees  in  con- 
nection with  the  animal  and  vegetable  worlds;  as  the  psychical  counterpart 
of  life;  as  conceivably  the  psychical  counterpart  of  all  phenomenal  existence. 
Or,  rather,  we  may  say  this  of  mind,  to  which,  in  its  more  elementary  forms, 
consciousness  bears  somewhat  the  same  relation  as  self-consciousness  bears 
to  consciousness,  or  some  higher  evolution  may  bear  to  self -consciousness. 

This  being  so,  I  cannot  see  how  we  can  phrase  our  definition  more 
simply  than  by  saying  that  any  act  or  condition  must  be  regarded  as  con- 
scious if  it  is  potentially  memorable;  —  if  it  can  be  recollected,  under  any 


3o  CHAPTER   II 

circumstances,  by  the  subject  concerned.  It  does  not  seem  needful  that 
the  circumstances  under  which  such  recollection  may  occur  should  arise 
while  the  subject  is  still  incarnated  on  this  planet.  We  shall  never  on  this 
planet  remember  the  great  majority  of  our  dreams ;  but  those  dreams  were 
presumably  no  less  conscious  than  the  dreams  which  a  sudden  awakening 
allowed  us  to  keep  in  memory.  Certain  hypnotic  subjects,  indeed,  who 
can  be  made  to  remember  their  dreams  by  suggestion,  apparently  remem- 
ber dreams  previously  latent  just  as  easily  as  dreams  previously  remem- 
bered. And  we  shall  have  various  other  examples  of  the  unexpected 
recollection  of  experiences  supposed  to  have  been  entirely  devoid  of  con- 
sciousness. 

We  are  bound,  I  think,  to  draw  at  least  this  negative  conclusion:  that 
we  must  not  take  for  granted  that  our  apparently  central  consciousness  is 
something  wholly  different  in  kind  from  the  minor  consciousnesses  out  of 
which  it  is  in  some  sense  elaborated.  I  do  indeed  believe  it  to  be  in  an 
important  sense  different;  but  this  difference  must  not  be  assumed  on  the 
basis  of  our  subjective  sensations  alone.  We  must  approach  the  whole 
subject  of  split  or  duplicated  personalities  with  no  prepossession  against 
the  possibility  of  any  given  arrangement  or  division  of  the  total  mass  of 
consciousness  which  exists  within  us. 

Before  we  can  picture  to  ourselves  how  that  mass  of  consciousness  may 
disintegrate,  we  ought,  were  it  possible,  to  picture  to  ourselves  how  it  is  in 
the  first  instance  integrated.  That,  however,  is  a  difficulty  which  dees  not 
begin  with  the  constitution  of  man.  It  begins  when  unicellular  develop 
into  multicellular  organisms.  It  is,  of  course,  a  mystery  how  a  single  cell 
can  hold  together,  and  what  kind  of  unity  it  can  possess.  But  it  is  a  fresh 
mystery  when  several  cells  cohere  in  a  conjoint  and  independent  life.  In 
the  collective  unity  of  certain  " colonial  animals"  we  have  a  kind  of  sketch 
or  parody  of  our  own  complex  being.  Higher  intelligences  may  possibly 
see  us  as  we  see  the  hydrozoon  —  a  creature  split  up  into  different  "per- 
sons," a  "hydriform  person"  who  feeds,  a  "medusiform  person"  who 
propagates,  and  so  on  —  elements  of  the  animal  differentiated  for  different 
ends  —  interconnected  from  one  point  of  view  as  closely  as  our  stomach 
and  brain,  yet  from  another  point  of  view  separable  existences,  capable  of 
detachment  and  of  independent  regeneration  in  all  kinds  of  different  ways. 
Still  more  composite,  though  less  conspicuously  composite,  is  every  animal 
that  we  meet  as  we  rise  through  the  scale;  and  in  man  we  reach  the  summit 
both  of  colonial  complexity  and  of  centralised  control. 

I  need  hardly  say  that  as  regards  the  inner  nature  of  this  close  co- 
ordination, this  central  government,  science  can  at  present  tell  us  little  or 


DISINTEGRATIONS    OF    PERSONALITY       31 

nothing.  The  growth  of  the  nervous  mechanism  may  be  to  some  extent 
deciphered;  but  how  this  mechanism  is  centrally  governed;  what  is  the 
tendency  which  makes  for  unity;  where  precisely  this  unity  resides,  and 
what  is  its  exact  relation  to  the  various  parts  of  the  multicellular  organism 
■ —  all  these  are  problems  in  the  nature  of  life,  to  which  as  yet  no  solution 
is  known. 

The  needed  clue,  as  I  believe,  can  be  afforded  only  by  the  discovery 
of  laws  affecting  primarily  that  unseen  or  spiritual  plane  of  being  where  I 
imagine  the  origin  of  life  to  lie.  If  we  can  suppose  telepathy  to  be  a  first 
indication  of  a  law  of  this  type,  and  to  occupy  in  the  spiritual  world  some 
such  place  as  gravitation  occupies  in  the  material  world,  we  might  imagine 
something  analogous  to  the  force  of  cohesion  as  operating  in  the  psychical 
contexture  of  a  human  personality.  Such  a  personality,  at  any  rate,  as  the 
development  of  higher  from  lower  organisms  shows,  involves  the  aggrega- 
tion of  countless  minor  psychical  entities,  whose  characteristics  still  per- 
sist, although  in  a  manner  consistent  with  the  possibility  that  one  larger 
psychical  entity,  whether  pre-existent  or  otherwise,  is  the  unifying  con- 
tinuum of  which  those  smaller  entities  are  fragments,  and  exercises  over 
them  a  pervading,  though  an  incomplete,  control. 

It  is  plainly  impossible  to  say  beforehand  what  will  be  the  relation  to 
the  ordinary  stream  of  consciousness  of  a  personality  thus  composed.  We 
have  no  right  to  assume  that  all  our  psychical  operations  will  fall  at  the 
same  time,  or  at  any  time,  into  the  same  central  current  of  perception, 
or  rise  above  what  we  have  called  the  ordinary  conscious  threshold.  We 
can  be  sure,  in  fact,  that  there  will  be  much  which  will  not  so  rise;  can  we 
predict  what  will  rise  ? 

We  can  only  reply  that  the  perception  of  stimuli  by  the  supraliminal 
consciousness  is  a  kind  of  exercise  of  function;  and  that  here,  as  in  other 
cases  where  a  function  is  exercised,  part  of  its  range  will  consist  of  such 
operation  as  the  primary  structure  of  the  organism  obliges  it  to  perform, 
and  part  will  consist  of  such  operation  as  natural  selection  (after  the  struc- 
ture has  come  into  being)  has  trained  it  to  perform.  There  will  be  some- 
thing which  is  structurally  inevitable,  and  something  which  was  not  struc- 
turally inevitable,  but  which  has  proved  itself  practically  advantageous. 

Thus  it  may  be  inevitable  —  a  necessary  result  of  nervous  structure  — 
that  consciousness  should  accompany  unfamiliar  cerebral  combinations; 
—  that  the  " fraying  of  fresh  channels"  should  carry  with  it  a  perceptible 
tingle  of  novelty.  Or  it  is  possible,  again,  that  this  vivid  consciousness  of 
new  cerebral  combinations  may  be  a  later  acquisition,  and  merely  due  to 
the  obvious  advantage  of  preventing  new  achievements  from  stereotyping 


32  CHAPTER   II 

themselves  before  they  have  been  thoroughly  practised;  —  as  a  musician 
will  keep  his  attention  fixed  on  a  difficult  novelty,  lest  his  execution  should 
become  automatic  before  he  has  learnt  to  render  the  piece  as  he  desires. 
It  seems  likely,  at  any  rate,  that  the  greater  part  of  the  contents  of  our 
supraliminal  consciousness  may  be  determined  in  some  such  fashion  as  this, 
by  natural  selection  so  operating  as  to  keep  ready  to  hand  those  percep- 
tions which  are  most  needed  for  the  conduct  of  life. 

The  notion  of  the  upbuilding  of  the  personality  here  briefly  given  is  of 
use,  I  think,  in  suggesting  its  practical  tendencies  to  dissolution.  Sub- 
jected continually  to  both  internal  and  external  stress  and  strain,  its  ways 
of  yielding  indicate  the  grain  of  its  texture. 

It  is  possible  that  if  we  could  discern  the  minute  psychology  of  this 
long  series  of  changes,  ranging  from  modifications  too  minute  to  be  noted 
as  abnormal  to  absolute  revolutions  of  the  whole  character  and  intelligence, 
we  might  find  no  definite  break  in  all  the  series;  but  rather  a  slow,  con- 
tinuous detachment  of  one  psychical  unit  or  element  of  consciousness 
after  another  from  the  primary  synthesis.  It  is  possible,  on  the  other 
hand,  that  there  may  be  a  real  break  at  a  point  where  there  appears  to  our 
external  observation  to  be  a  break,  namely,  where  the  personality  passes 
into  its  new  phase  through  an  interval  of  sleep  or  trance.  And  I  believe 
that  there  is  another  break,  at  a  point  much  further  advanced,  and  not  to 
be  reached  in  this  chapter,  where  some  external  intelligence  begins  in  some 
way  to  possess  the  organism  and  to  replace  for  a  time  the  ordinary  intel- 
lectual activity  by  an  activity  of  its  own.  Setting,  however,  this  last  pos- 
sibility for  the  present  aside,  we  must  adopt  some  arrangement  on  which 
to  hang  our  cases.  For  this  purpose  the  appearance  of  sleep  or  trance 
will  make  a  useful,  although  not  a  definite,  line  of  demarcation. 

We  may  begin  with  localised  psychical  hypertrophies  and  isolations,  — 
terms  which  I  shall  explain  as  we  proceed;  and  then  pass  on  through 
hysterical  instabilities  (where  intermediate  periods  of  trance  may  or  may 
not  be  present)  to  those  more  advanced  sleep-wakings  and  dimorphisms 
which  a  barrier  of  trance  seems  always  to  separate  from  the  primary  stream 
of  conscious  life.  All  such  changes,  of  course,  are  generally  noxious  to 
the  psychical  organism;  and  it  will  be  simpler  to  begin  by  dwelling  on 
their  noxious  aspect,  and  regarding  them  as  steps  on  the  road  —  on  one 
of  the  many  roads  —  to  mental  overthrow. 

The  process  begins,  then,  with  something  which  is  to  the  psychical 
organism  no  more  than  a  boil  or  a  corn  is  to  the  physical.  In  consequence 
of  some  suggestion  from  without,  or  of  some  inherited  tendency,  a  small 
group  of  psychical  units  set  up  a  process  of  exaggerated  growth  which 


DISINTEGRATIONS    OF   PERSONALITY       33 

shuts  them  off  from  free  and  healthy  interchange  with  the  rest  of  the  per- 
sonality. 

The  first  symptom  of  disaggregation  is  thus  the  idee  fixe,  that  is  to 
say,  the  persistence  of  an  uncontrolled  and  unmodifiable  group  of  thoughts 
or  emotions,  which  from  their  brooding  isolation,  —  from  the  very  fact  of 
deficient  interchange  with  the  general  current  of  thought,  —  become  alien 
and  intrusive,  so  that  some  special  idea  or  image  presses  into  conscious- 
ness with  undue  and  painful  frequency. 

The  fixed  idea,  thus  originating,  may  develop  in  different  ways.  It 
may  become  a  centre  of  explosion,  or  a  nucleus  of  separation,  or  a  begin- 
ning of  death.  It  may  induce  an  access  of  hysterical  convulsions,  thus 
acting  like  a  material  foreign  body  which  presses  on  a  sensitive  part  of  the 
organism.  Or  it  may  draw  to  its  new  parasitic  centre  so  many  psychical 
elements  that  it  forms  a  kind  of  secondary  personality,  co-existing  secretly 
with  the  primary  one,  or  even  able  at  times  (as  in  some  well-known  cases) 
to  carry  the  whole  organism  by  a  coup-de-main.  (Such  changes,  it  may 
be  noted  in  passing,  are  not  always  for  the  worse.)  Or,  again,  the  new 
quasi-independent  centres  may  be  merely  anarchical;  the  revolt  may  spread 
to  every  cell;  and  the  forces  of  the  environment,  ever  making  war  upon 
the  organism,  may  thus  effect  its  total  decay. 

Let  us  dwell  for  a  few  moments  on  the  nature  of  these  fixed  or  insistent 
ideas.  They  are  not  generally  or  at  the  first  outset  extravagant  fancies,  — 
as  that  one  is  made  of  glass  or  the  like.  Rather  will  " fixed  ideas"  come 
to  seem  a  mere  expression  for  something  in  a  minor  degree  common  to 
most  of  us.  Hardly  any  mind,  I  suppose,  is  wholly  free  from  tendencies 
to  certain  types  of  thought  or  emotion  for  which  we  cannot  summon  any 
adequate  check  —  useless  recurrent  broodings  over  the  past  or  anxieties 
for  the  future,  perhaps  traces  of  old  childish  experience  which  have  become 
too  firmly  fixed  wholly  to  disappear.  Nay,  it  may  well  be  that  we  must 
look  even  further  back  than  our  own  childhood  for  the  origin  of  many 
haunting  troubles.  Inherited  tendencies  to  terror,  especially,  seem  to 
reach  far  back  into  a  prehistoric  past.  In  a  recent  "Study  of  Fears," 
which  Professor  Stanley  Hall  has  based  on  a  wide  statistical  collection,1 
it  would  seem  that  the  fears  of  childhood  often  correspond  to  no  existing 
cause  for  uneasiness,  but  rather  to  the  vanished  perils  of  primitive  man. 
The  fear  of  darkness,  for  instance,  the  fear  of  solitude,  the  fear  of  thunder- 
storms, the  fear  of  the  loss  of  orientation,  speak  of  primitive  helplessness, 

1  Stanley  Hall's  "  Study  of  Fears,"  American  Journal  of  Psychology,  vol.  viii., 
No.  2,  January,  1897.  See  also  "  The  Use  of  Hypnotism  in  the  First  Degree,"  by 
Dr.  Russell  Sturgis  (Boston,  1894). 


34  CHAPTER   II 

just  as  the  fear  of  animals,  the  fear  of  strangers,  suggest  the  fierce  and 
hazardous  life  of  early  man.  To  all  such  instinctive  feelings  as  these 
a  morbid  development  is  easily  given. 

Of  what  nature  must  we  suppose  this  morbid  development  to  be? 
Does  it  fall  properly  within  our  present  discussion?  or  is  it  not  simply  a 
beginning  of  brain-disease,  which  concerns  the  physician  rather  than  the 
psychologist  ?  The  psychologist's  best  answer  to  this  question  will  be  to 
show  cases  of  fixed  ideas  cured  by  psychological  means.1  And  indeed  there 
are  few  cases  to  show  which  have  been  cured  by  any  methods  except  the 
psychological;  if  hypnotic  suggestion  does  not  succeed  with  an  idee  fixe, 
it  is  seldom  that  any  other  treatment  will  cure  it.  We  may,  of  course,  say 
that  the  brain  troubles  thus  cured  were  functional,  and  that  those  which 
went  on  inevitably  into  insanity  were  organic,  although  the  distinction 
between  functional  and  organic  is  not  easily  demonstrable  in  this  ultra- 
microscopic  realm. 

At  any  rate,  we  have  actually  on  record,  —  and  that  is  what  our  argu- 
ment needs,  —  a  great  series  of  idles  -fixes,  of  various  degrees  of  intensity, 
cured  by  suggestion;  —  cured,  that  is  to  say,  by  a  subliminal  setting  in 
action  of  minute  nervous  movements  which  our  supraliminal  consciousness 
cannot  in  even  the  blindest  manner  manage  to  set  to  work.  Some  such 
difference  as  exists  on  a  gross  scale  between  striped  and  unstriped  muscle 
seems  to  exist  on  a  minute  scale  among  these  smallest  involved  cells  and 
fibres,  or  whatever  they  be.  Some  of  them  obey  our  conscious  will,  but 
most  of  them  are  capable  of  being  governed  only  by  subliminal  strata  of 
the  self. 

If,  however,  it  be  the  subliminal  self  which  can  reduce  these  elements 
to  order,  it  is  often  probably  the  subliminal  self  to  which  their  disorder  is 
originally  due.  If  a  fixed  idea,  say  agoraphobia,  grows  up  in  me,  this  may 
probably  be  because  the  proper  controlling  co-ordinations  of  thought, 
which  I  ought  to  be  able  to  summon  up  at  will,  have  sunk  below  the  level 
at  which  will  can  reach  them.  I  am  no  longer  able,  that  is  to  say,  to  con- 
vince myself  by  reasoning  that  there  is  no  danger  in  crossing  the  open 
square.  And  this  may  be  the  fault  of  my  subliminal  self,  whose  business 
it  is  to  keep  the  ideas  which  I  need  for  common  life  easily  within  my  reach, 
and  which  has  failed  to  do  this,  owing  to  some  enfeeblement  of  its  grasp 
of  my  organism. 

If  we  imagine  these  obscure  operations  under  some  such  form  as  this, 
we  get  the  advantage  of  being  able  to  connect  these  insistent  ideas  in 
a  coherent  sequence  with  the  more  advanced  phenomena  of  hysteria. 
1  For  instances  of  such  cures  see  Drs.  Raymond  and  Janet's  Nevroses  et  Idees  fixes. 


DISINTEGRATIONS    OF    PERSONALITY       35 

We  have  seen  that  the  presence  of  insistent  ideas  implies  an  instability 
of  the  conscious  threshold;  and  this,  in  its  turn,  indicates  a  disorderly 
or  diseased  condition  of  the  hypnotic  stratum,  —  of  that  region  of  the 
personality  which,  as  we  shall  see,  is  best  known  to  us  through  the  fact 
that  it  is  reached  by  hypnotic  suggestion. 

Now  we  shall  find,  I  think,  that  all  the  phenomena  of  hysteria  are 
reducible  to  the  same  general  conception.  To  understand  their  many 
puzzles  we  have  to  keep  our  eyes  fixed  upon  just  these  psychological  no- 
tions —  upon  a  threshold  of  ordinary  consciousness  above  which  certain 
perceptions  and  faculties  ought  to  be,  but  are  not  always,  maintained, 
and  upon  a  " hypnotic  stratum"  or  region  of  the  personality  to  which 
hypnotic  suggestion  appeals;  and  which  includes  faculty  and  perception 
which  surpass  the  supraliminal,  but  whose  operation  is  capricious  and 
dreamlike,  inasmuch  as  they  lie,  so  to  say,  in  a  debateable  region  between 
two  rules  —  the  known  rule  of  the  supraliminal  self,  adapted  to  this  life's 
experience  and  uses,  and  the  conjectured  rule  of  a  fuller  and  profounder 
self,  rarely  reached  by  any  artifice  which  our  present  skill  suggests.  Some 
of  these  conscious  groupings  have  got  separated  from  the  ordinary  stream 
of  consciousness.  These  may  still  be  unified  in  the  subliminal,  but  they 
need  to  be  unified  in  the  supraliminal  also.  The  normal  relation  between 
the  supraliminal  and  the  subliminal  may  be  disturbed  by  the  action  of 
either. 

Let  us  now  see  how  far  this  view,  which  I  suggested  in  the  S.P.R. 
Proceedings  as  far  back  as  1892,1  fits  in  with  those  modern  observations 
of  hysteria,  in  Paris  and  Vienna  especially,  which  are  transforming  all  that 
group  of  troubles  from  the  mere  opprobrium  of  medicine  into  one  of  the 
most  fertile  sources  of  new  knowledge  of  body  and  mind. 

First,  then,  let  us  briefly  consider  what  is  the  general  type  of  hysterical 
troubles.  Speaking  broadly,  we  may  say  that  the  symptoms  of  hysteria 
form,  in  the  first  place,  a  series  of  phantom  copies  of  real  maladies  of  the 
nervous  system ;  and,  in  the  second  place,  a  series  of  fantasies  played  upon 
that  system  —  of  unreal,  dreamlike  ailments,  often  such  as  no  physio- 
logical mechanism  can  be  shown  to  have  determined.  These  latter  cases 
are  often  due,  as  we  shall  see,  not  to  purely  physiological,  but  rather  to 
intellectual  causes;  they  represent,  not  a  particular  pattern  in  which  the 
nervous  system  tends  of  itself  to  disintegrate,  but  a  particular  pattern 
which  has  been  imposed  upon  it  by  some  intellectual  process ;  —  in  short, 
by  some  form  of  self-suggestion. 

Let  us  briefly  review  some  common  types  of  hysterical  disability,  — 
1  See  vol.  vii.  p.  309. 


36  CHAPTER   II 

taking  as  our  first  guide  Dr.  Pierre  Janet's  admirable  work,  VEtat  Mental 
des  Hysteriques  (Paris,  1893). 

What,  then,  to  begin  with,  is  Dr.  Janet's  general  conception  of  the 
psychological  states  of  the  advanced  hysteric?  "In  the  expression  /  jeel" 
he  says  (VEtat  Mental,  p.  39),  "we  have  two  elements:  a  small  new  psy- 
chological fact,  'feel,'  and  an  enormous  mass  of  thoughts  already  formed 
into  a  system  'I.'  These  two  things  mix  and  combine,  and  to  say  /  jeel 
is  to  say  that  the  personality,  already  enormous,  has  seized  and  absorbed 
this  small  new  sensation;  ...  as  though  the  I  were  an  amoeba  which 
sent  out  a  prolongation  to  suck  in  this  little  sensation  which  has  come 
into  existence  beside  it."  Now  it  is  in  the  assimilation  of  these  elementary 
sensations  or  affective  states  with  the  perception  personnelle,  as  Janet  terms 
it,  that  the  advanced  hysteric  fails.  His  field  of  consciouness  is  so  far 
narrowed  that  it  can  only  take  in  the  minimum  of  sensations  necessary 
for  the  support  of  life.  "One  must  needs  have  consciousness  of  what 
one  sees  and  hears,  and  so  the  patient  neglects  to  perceive  the  tactile  and 
muscular  sensations  with  which  he  thinks  that  he  can  manage  to  dispense. 
At  first  he  could  perhaps  turn  his  attention  to  them,  and  recover  them 
at  least  momentarily  within  the  field  of  personal  perception.  But  the 
occasion  does  not  present  itself,  and  the  psychological  bad  habit  is  formed. 
.  .  .  One  day  the  patient  —  for  he  is  now  veritably  a  patient  —  is  exam- 
ined by  the  doctor.  His  left  arm  is  pinched,  and  he  is  asked  whether 
he  feels  the  pinch.  To  his  surprise  the  patient  realises  that  he  can  no 
longer  feel  consciously,  can  no  longer  bring  back  into  his  personal  percep- 
tion sensations  which  he  has  neglected  too  long  —  he  has  become  anaes- 
thetic. .  .  .  Hysterical  anaesthesia  is  thus  a  fixed  and  perpetual  distraction, 
which  renders  its  subjects  incapable  of  attaching  certain  sensations  to 
their  personality;  it  is  a  restriction  of  the  conscious  field." 

The  proof  of  these  assertions  depends  on  a  number  of  observations,  all 
of  which  point  in  the  same  direction,  and  show  that  hysterical  anaesthesia 
does  not  descend  so  deep  into  the  personality,  so  to  say,  as  true  anaesthesia 
caused  by  nervous  decay,  or  by  the  section  of  a  nerve. 

Thus  the  hysteric  is  often  unconscious  of  the  anaesthesia,  which  is  only 
discovered  by  the  physician.  There  is  none  of  the  distress  caused  by 
true  anaesthesia,  as,  for  instance,  by  the  "tabetic  mask,"  or  insensibility 
of  part  of  the  face,  which  sometimes  occurs  in  tabes  dorsalis. 

An  incident  reported  by  Dr.  Jules  Janet  illustrates  this  peculiarity. 
A  young  woman  cut  her  right  hand  severely  with  broken  glass,  and  com- 
plained of  insensibility  in  the  palm.  The  physician  who  examined  her 
found  that  the  sensibility  of  the  right  palm  was,  in  fact,  diminished  by 


DISINTEGRATIONS    OF   PERSONALITY       37 

the  section  of  certain  nerves.  But  he  discovered  at  the  same  time  that 
the  girl  was  hysterically  anaesthetic  over  the  whole  left  side  of  her  body. 
She  had  never  even  found  out  this  disability,  and  the  doctor  twitted  her 
with  complaining  of  the  small  patch  of  anaesthesia,  while  she  said  nothing 
of  that  which  covered  half  her  body.  But,  as  Dr.  Pierre  Janet  remarks, 
she  might  well  have  retorted  that  these  were  the  facts,  and  that  it  was 
for  the  man  of  science  to  say  why  the  small  patch  annoyed  her  while  the 
large  one  gave  her  no  trouble  at  all. 

Of  similar  import  is  the  ingenious  observation  that  hysterical  anaes- 
thesia rarely  leads  to  any  accident  to  the  limb ;  —  differing  in  this  respect, 
for  instance,  from  the  true  and  profound  anaesthesia  of  syringomyelitis,  in 
which  burns  and  bruises  frequently  result  from  the  patient's  forgetfulness 
of  the  part  affected.  There  is  usually,  in  fact,  a  supervision  —  a  subliminal 
supervision  —  exercised  over  the  hysteric's  limbs.  Part  of  her  personality 
is  still  alive  to  the  danger,  and  modifies  her  movements,  unknown  to  her 
supraliminal  self. 

This  curious  point,  I  may  remark  in  passing,  well  illustrates  the  kind 
of  action  which  I  attribute  to  the  subliminal  self  in  many  phases  of  life. 
Thus  it  is  that  the  hypnotised  subject  is  prevented  (as  I  hold)  from  com- 
mitting a  real  as  opposed  to  a  fictitious  crime;  thus  it  is  that  fresh  ideas 
are  suggested  to  the  man  of  genius ;  thus  it  is  —  I  will  even  say  —  that  in 
some  cases  monitory  hallucinations  are  generated,  which  save  the  supra- 
liminal self  from  some  sudden  danger. 

I  pass  on  to  another  peculiarity  of  hysterical  anaesthesiae;  —  also  in 
my  eyes  of  deep  significance.  The  anaesthetic  belts  or  patches  do  not 
always,  or  even  generally,  correspond  with  true  anatomical  areas,  such  as 
would  be  affected  by  the  actual  lesion  of  any  given  nerve.  They  follow 
arbitrary  arrangements;  —  sometimes  corresponding  to  rough  popular 
notions  of  divisions  of  the  body,  —  sometimes  seeming  to  reflect  a 
merely  childish  caprice. 

In  these  cases  what  is  only  a  silly  fancy  seems  to  produce  an  effect 
which  is  not  merely  fanciful;  —  which  is  objective,  measurable,  and 
capable  of  causing  long  and  serious  disablement.  This  result,  however, 
is  quite  accordant  with  my  view  of  what  I  have  termed  the  hypnotic 
stratum  of  the  personality.  I  hold,  as  our  coming  discussion  of  hypno- 
tism will  more  fully  explain,  that  the  region  into  which  the  hypnotic 
suggestion  gives  us  access  is  one  of  strangely  mingled  strength  and 
weakness;  —  of  a  faculty  at  once  more  potent  and  less  coherent  than 
that  of  waking  hours.  I  think  that  in  these  cases  we  get  at  the  subliminal 
self  only  somewhat  in  the  same  sense  as  we  get  at  the  supraliminal  self 


38  CHAPTER   II 

when  the  " highest-level  centres"  are  for  the  time  inoperative  (as  in  a 
dream)  and  only  " middle-level  centres"  are  left  to  follow  their  own 
devices  without  inhibition  or  co-ordination.  I  hold  that  this  is  the 
explanation  of  the  strange  contrasts  which  hypnosis  makes  familiar  to  us 
—  the  combination  of  profound  power  over  the  organism  with  childish 
readiness  to  obey  the  merest  whims  of  the  hypnotiser.  The  intelligence 
which  thus  responds  is  in  my  view  only  a  fragmentary  intelligence;  it  is 
a  dreamlike  scrap  of  the  subliminal  self,  functioning  apart  from  that  self's 
central  and  profounder  control. 

What  happens  in  hypnotism  in  obedience  to  the  hypnotiser's  caprice 
happens  in  hysteria  in  obedience  to  the  caprice  of  the  hypnotic  stratum 
itself.  Some  middle-level  centre  of  the  subliminal  self  (to  express  a  diffi- 
cult idea  by  the  nearest  phrase  I  can  find)  gets  the  notion  that  there  is  an 
"anaesthetic  bracelet,"  say,  round  the  left  wrist;  —  and  lo,  this  straight- 
way is  so;  and  the  hysteric  loses  supraliminal  sensation  in  this  fantastic  belt. 
That  the  notion  does  not  originate  in  the  hysteric's  supraliminal  self  is 
proved  by  the  fact  that  the  patient  is  generally  unaware  of  the  existence 
of  the  bracelet  until  the  physician  discovers  it.  Nor  is  it  a  chance  com- 
bination ;  —  even  were  there  such  a  thing  as  chance.  It  is  a  dream  of  the 
hypnotic  stratum;  —  an  incoherent  self-suggestion  starting  from  and 
affecting  a  region  below  the  reach  of  conscious  will.  Such  cases  are  most 
instructive;  for  they  begin  to  show  us  divisions  of  the  human  body  based 
not  upon  local  innervation  but  upon  ideation  (however  incoherent) ;  —  upon 
intellectual  conceptions  like  "a  bracelet,"  "a  cross,"  —  applied  though 
these  conceptions  may  be  with  dreamlike  futility. 

In  this  view,  then,  we  regard  the  fragments  of  perceptive  power  over 
which  the  hysteric  has  lost  control  as  being  by  no  means  really  extinguished, 
but  rather  as  existing  immediately  beneath  the  threshold,  in  the  custody, 
so  to  say,  of  a  dreamlike  or  hypnotic  stratum  of  the  subliminal  self,  which 
has  selected  them  for  reasons  sometimes  explicable  as  the  result  of  past 
suggestions,  sometimes  to  us  inexplicable.  If  this  be  so,  we  may  expect 
that  the  same  kind  of  suggestions  which  originally  cut  off  these  percep- 
tions from  the  main  body  of  perception  may  stimulate  them  again  to  action 
either  below  or  above  the  conscious  threshold. 

We  have  already,  indeed,  seen  reason  to  suppose  that  the  submerged 
perceptions  are  still  at  work,  when  Dr.  Janet  pointed  out  how  rare  a  thing 
it  was  that  any  accident  or  injury  followed  upon  hysterical  loss  of  feeling 
in  the  limbs.  A  still  more  curious  illustration  is  afforded  by  the  condi- 
tion of  the  field  of  vision  in  a  hysteric.  It  often  happens  that  the  field 
of  vision  is  much  reduced,  so  that  the  hysteric,  when  tested  with  the 


DISINTEGRATIONS    OF    PERSONALITY       39 

perimeter,  can  discern  only  objects  almost  directly  in  front  of  the  eye. 
But  if  an  object  which  happens  to  be  particularly  exciting  to  the  hyp- 
notic stratum  —  for  instance  the  hypnotiser's  finger,  used  often  as  a  signal 
for  trance  —  is  advanced  into  that  part  of  the  hysteric's  normal  visual 
field  of  which  she  has  apparently  lost  all  consciousness,  there  will  often 
be  an  instant  subliminal  perception,  —  shown  by  the  fact  that  the  subject 
promptly  falls  into  trance. 

In  such  cases  the  action  of  the  submerged  perceptions,  while  pro- 
voked by  very  shallow  artifices,  continues  definitely  subliminal.  The 
patient  herself,  as  we  say,  does  not  know  why  she  does  not  burn  her  anaes- 
thetic limbs,  or  why  she  suddenly  falls  into  a  trance  while  being  subjected 
to  optical  tests. 

But  it  is  equally  easy  to  devise  experiments  which  shall  call  these 
submerged  sensations  up  again  into  supraliminal  consciousness.  A 
hysteric  has  lost  sensation  in  one  arm:  Dr.  Janet  tells  her  that  there  is 
a  caterpillar  on  that  arm,  and  the  reinforcement  of  attention  thus  gen- 
erated brings  back  the  sensibility. 

These  hysterical  anaesthesias,  it  may  be  added  here,  may  be  not  only 
very  definite  but  very  profound.  Just  as  the  reality,  —  though  also 
the  impermanence,  —  of  the  hysterical  retrenchment  of  field  of  vision 
of  which  I  have  been  speaking  can  be  shown  by  optical  experiments  be- 
yond the  patient's  comprehension,  so  the  reality  of  some  profound  organic 
hysterical  insensibilities  is  sometimes  shown  by  the  progress  of  independent 
disease.  A  certain  patient  feels  no  hunger  or  thirst:  this  indifference  might 
be  simulated  for  a  time,  but  her  ignorance  of  severe  inflammation  of  the 
bladder  is  easily  recognisable  as  real.  Throw  her  into  hypnosis  and 
her  sensibilities  return.  The  disease  is  for  the  first  time  felt,  and  the 
patient  screams  with  pain.  This  result  well  illustrates  one  main  effect 
of  hypnosis,  viz.,  to  bring  the  organism  into  a  more  normal  state.  The 
deep  organic  anaesthesia  of  this  patient  was  dangerously  abnormal;  the 
missing  sensibility  had  first  to  be  restored,  although  it  might  be  desirable 
afterwards  to  remove  the  painful  elements  in  that  sensibility  again,  under, 
so  to  say,  a  wiser  and  deeper  control. 

What  has  been  said  of  hysterical  defects  of  sensation  might  be  repeated 
for  motor  defects.  There,  too,  the  powers  of  which  the  supraliminal  self 
has  lost  control  continue  to  act  in  obedience  to  subliminal  promptings. 
The  hysteric  who  squeezes  the  dynamometer  like  a  weak  child  can  exert 
great  muscular  force  under  the  influence  of  emotion. 

Very  numerous  are  the  cases  which  might  be  cited  to  give  a  notion  of 
dissolutive  hysterical  processes,  as  now  observed  with  closer  insight  than 


40  CHAPTER   II 

formerly,  in  certain  great  hospitals.  But,  nevertheless,  these  hospital 
observations  do  not  exhaust  what  has  recently  been  learnt  of  hysteria. 
Dealing  almost  exclusively  with  a  certain  class  of  patients,  they  leave 
almost  untouched  another  group,  smaller,  indeed,  but  equally  instructive 
for  our  study. 

Hysteria  is  no  doubt  a  disease,  but  it  is  by  no  means  on  that  account 
an  indication  of  initial  weakness  of  mind,  any  more  than  an  Arctic  ex- 
plorer's frost-bite  is  an  indication  of  bad  circulation.  Disease  is  a  function 
of  two  variables:  power  of  resistance  and  strength  of  injurious  stimulus. 
In  the  case  of  hysteria,  as  in  the  case  of  frost-bite,  the  inborn  power  of 
resistance  may  be  unusually  great,  and  yet  the  stimulus  may  be  so  excessive 
that  that  power  may  be  overcome.  Arctic  explorers  have  generally,  of 
course,  been  among  the  most  robust  of  men.  And  with  some  hysterics 
there  is  an  even  closer  connection  between  initial  strength  and  destructive 
malady.  For  it  has  often  happened  that  the  very  feelings  which  we  regard 
as  characteristically  civilised,  characteristically  honourable,  have  reached  a 
pitch  of  vividness  and  delicacy  which  exposes  their  owners  to  shocks  such 
as  the  selfish  clown  can  never  know.  It  would  be  a  great  mistake  to  sup- 
pose that  all  psychical  upsets  are  due  to  vanity,  to  anger,  to  terror,  to 
sexual  passion.  The  instincts  of  personal  cleanliness  and  of  feminine 
modesty  are  responsible  for  many  a  breakdown  of  a  sensitive,  but  not  a 
relatively  feeble  organisation.  The  love  of  one's  fellow-creatures  and  the 
love  of  God  are  responsible  for  many  more.  And  why  should  it  not  be 
so  ?  There  exist  for  many  men  and  women  stimuli  far  stronger  than  self- 
esteem  or  bodily  desires.  Human  life  rests  more  and  more  upon  ideas 
and  emotions  whose  relation  to  the  conservation  of  the  race  or  of  the  in- 
dividual is  indirect  and  obscure.  Feelings  which  may  once  have  been 
utilitarian  have  developed  wholly  out  of  proportion  to  any  advantage 
which  they  can  gain  for  their  possessor  in  the  struggle  for  life.  The  dan- 
gers which  are  now  most  shudderingly  felt  are  often  no  real  risks  to  life 
or  fortune.  The  aims  most  ardently  pursued  are  often  worse  than  use- 
less for  man  regarded  as  a  mere  over-runner  of  the  earth. 

There  is  thus  real  psychological  danger  in  fixing  our  conception  of 
human  character  too  low.  Some  essential  lessons  of  a  complex  perturba- 
tion of  personality  are  apt  to  be  missed  if  we  begin  with  the  conviction 
that  there  is  nothing  before  us  but  a  study  of  decay.  As  I  have  more 
than  once  found  need  to  maintain,  it  is  his  steady  advance,  and  not  his 
occasional  regression,  which  makes  the  chief  concern  of  man. 

To  this  side  of  the  study  of  hysteria  Drs.  Breuer  and  Freud  have  made 
valuable  contribution.     Drawing  their  patients  not  from  hospital  wards, 


DISINTEGRATIONS    OF   PERSONALITY       41 

but  from  private  practice,  they  have  had  the  good  fortune  to  encounter, 
and  the  penetration  to  understand,  some  remarkable  cases  where,  unselfish 
but  powerful  passions  have  proved  too  much  for  the  equilibrium  of  minds 
previously  well-fortified  both  by  principle  and  by  education.1 

"Wax  to  receive  and  marble  to  retain";  such,  as  we  all  have  felt,  is 
the  human  mind  in  moments  of  excitement  which  transcend  its  resistant 
powers.  This  may  be  for  good  or  for  evil,  may  tend  to  that  radical  change 
in  ethical  standpoint  which  is  called  conversion,  or  to  the  mere  setting-up 
of  some  hysterical  disability.  Who  shall  say  how  far  we  desire  to  be  sus- 
ceptible to  stimulus?  Most  rash  would  it  be  to  assign  any  fixed  limit, 
or  to  class  as  inferior  those  whose  main  difference  from  ourselves  may 
be  that  they  feel  sincerely  and  passionately  what  we  feel  torpidly,  or  per- 
haps only  affect  to  feel.  "The  term  degenerate,"  says  Dr.  Milne  Bram- 
well,  "is  applied  so  freely  and  widely  by  some  modern  authors  that  one 
cannot  help  concluding  that  they  rank  as  such  all  who  do  not  conform  to 
some  primitive,  savage  type,  possessing  an  imperfectly  developed  nervous 
system."  Our  "degenerates"  may  sometimes  be  in  truth  progenerate; 
and  their  perturbation  may  mask  an  evolution  which  we  or  our  children 
needs  must  traverse  when  they  have  shown  the  way. 

Let  us  pause  for  a  moment  and  consider  what  is  here  implied.  We 
are  getting  here  among  the  hysteriques  qui  menent  le  monde.  We  have 
advanced,  that  is  to  say,  from  the  region  of  idees  fixes  of  a  paltry  or  morbid 
type  to  the  region  of  idees  fixes  which  in  themselves  are  reasonable  and 
honourable,  and  which  become  morbid  only  on  account  of  their  relative 
intensity.  Here  is  the  debateable  ground  between  hysteria  and  genius. 
The  kind  of  genius  which  we  approach  here  is  not,  indeed,  the  purely 
intellectual  form.  Rather  it  is  the  "moral  genius,"  the  "genius  of  sanctity," 
or  that  "possession"  by  some  altruistic  idea  which  lies  at  the  root  of  so 
many  heroic  lives. 

The  hagiology  of  all  religions  offers  endless  examples  of  this  type. 
That  man  would  hardly  be  regarded  as  a  great  saint  whose  conduct  seemed 
completely  reasonable  to  the  mass  of  mankind.  The  saint  in  consequence 
is  apt  to  be  set  unduly  apart,  whether  for  veneration  or  for  ridicule.  He 
is  regarded  either  as  inspired  or  as  morbid;  when  in  reality  all  that  his 
mode  of  life  shows  is  that  certain  idees  fixes,  in  themselves  of  no  unworthy 
kind,  have  obtained  such  dominance  that  their  impulsive  action  may 
take  and  retake,  as  accident  wills,  the  step  between  the  sublime  and  the 
ridiculous. 

1  See  "Studien  iiber  Hysterie"  (Leipsic,  1895),  by  Drs.  Breuer  and  Freud.  An 
account  of  two  of  these  cases  is  given  in  the  original  edition.     Vol.  i.  pp.  51-6. 


42  CHAPTER   II 

Martyrs,  missionaries,  crusaders,  nihilists,  —  enthusiasts  of  any  kind 
who  are  swayed  by  impulses  largely  below  the  threshold  of  ordinary  con- 
sciousness, —  these  men  bring  to  bear  on  human  affairs  a  force  more 
concentrated  and  at  higher  tension  than  deliberate  reason  can  generate. 
They  are  virtually  carrying  out  self-suggestions  which  have  acquired  the 
permanence  of  idees  fixes.  Their  fixed  ideas,  however,  are  not  so  isolated, 
so  encysted  as  those  of  true  hysterics.  Although  more  deeply  and  im- 
mutably rooted  than  their  ideas  on  other  matters,  these  subliminal  con- 
victions are  worked  in  with  the  products  of  supraliminal  reason,  and  of 
course  can  only  thus  be  made  effective  over  other  minds.  A  deep  sub- 
liminal horror,  generated,  say,  by  the  sight  of  some  loathsome  cruelty, 
must  not  only  prompt  hallucinations,  —  as  it  might  do  in  the  hysteric  and 
has  often  done  in  the  reformer  as  well,  —  it  must  also,  if  it  is  to  work  out 
its  mission  of  reform,  be  held  clearly  before  the  supraliminal  reason,  and 
must  learn  to  express  itself  in  writing  or  speech  adapted  to  influence 
ordinary  minds. 

We  may  now  pass  from  the  first  to  the  second  of  the  categories  of  dis- 
integration of  personality  suggested  at  the  beginning  of  this  chapter.  The 
cases  which  I  have  thus  far  discussed  have  been  mainly  cases  of  isolation 
of  elements  of  personality.  We  have  not  dealt  as  yet  with  secondary  per- 
sonalities as  such.  There  is,  however,  a  close  connection  between  these 
two  classes.  There  are  cases,  for  example,  where  a  kind  of  secondary 
state  at  times  intervenes  —  a  sort  of  bewilderment  arising  from  confluent 
idees  fixes  and  overrunning  the  whole  personality.  This  new  state  is  often 
preceded  or  accompanied  by  something  of  somnambulic  change.  It  is 
this  new  feature  of  which  we  have  here  a  first  hint  which  seems  to  me  of 
sufficient  importance  for  the  diagnosis  of  my  second  class  of  psychical 
disintegrations.  This  second  class  starts  from  sleep-wakings  of  all  kinds, 
and  includes  all  stages  of  alternation  of  personality,  from  brief  somnam- 
bulisms up  to  those  permanent  and  thorough  changes  which  deserve  the 
name  of  dimorphisms. 

We  are  making  here  a  transition  somewhat  resembling  the  transition 
from  isolated  bodily  injuries  to  those  subtler  changes  of  diathesis  which 
change  of  climate  or  of  nutrition  may  induce.  Something  has  happened 
which  makes  the  organism  react  to  all  stimuli  in  a  new  way.  Our  best 
starting-point  for  the  study  of  these  secondary  states  lies  among  the 
phenomena  of  dream. 

We  shall  in  a  later  chapter  discuss  certain  rare  characteristics  of  dreams ; 
occasional  manifestations  in  sleep  of  waking  faculty  heightened,  or  of 


DISINTEGRATIONS    OF   PERSONALITY       43 

faculty  altogether  new.  We  have  now  to  consider  ordinary  dreams  in 
their  aspect  as  indications  of  the  structure  of  our  personality,  and  as 
agencies  which  tend  to  its  modification. 

In  the  first  place,  it  should  be  borne  in  mind  that  the  dreaming  state, 
though  I  will  not  call  it  the  normal  form  of  mentation,  is  nevertheless 
the  form  which  our  mentation  most  readily  and  habitually  assumes. 
Dreams  of  a  kind  are  probably  going  on  within  us  both  by  night  and 
by  day,  unchecked  by  any  degree  of  tension  of  waking  thought.  This 
view  —  theoretically  probable  —  seems  to  me  to  be  supported  by  one's 
own  actual  experience  in  momentary  dozes  or  even  momentary  lapses 
of  attention.  The  condition  of  which  one  then  becomes  conscious 
is  that  of  swarming  fragments  of  thought  or  imagery,  which  have 
apparently  been  going  on  continuously,  though  one  may  become  aware 
of  them  and  then  unaware  at  momentary  intervals ;  —  while  one  tries,  for 
instance,  to  listen  to  a  speech  or  to  read  a  book  aloud  between  sleep  and 
waking. 

This,  then,  is  the  kind  of  mentation  from  which  our  clearer  and  more 
coherent  states  may  be  supposed  to  develop.  Waking  life  implies  a  fixa- 
tion of  attention  on  one  thread  of  thought  running  through  a  tangled  skein. 
In  hysterical  patients  we  see  some  cases  where  no  such  fixation  is  possible, 
and  other  cases  where  the  fixation  is  involuntary,  or  follows  a  thread  which 
it  is  not  desirable  to  pursue. 

There  is,  moreover,  another  peculiarity  of  dreams  which  has  hardly 
attracted  sufficient  notice  from  psychologists,  but  which  it  is  essential  to 
review  when  we  are  dealing  with  fractionations  of  personality.1  I  allude 
to  their  dramatic  character.  In  dream,  to  begin  with,  we  have  an  environ- 
ment, a  surrounding  scene  which  we  have  not  wittingly  invented,  but 
which  we  find,  as  it  were,  awaiting  our  entry.  And  in  many  cases  our 
dream  contains  a  conversation  in  which  we  await  with  eagerness  and  hear 
with  surprise  the  remarks  of  our  interlocutor,  who  must,  of  course,  all  the 
time  represent  only  another  segment  or  stratum  of  ourselves.  This  dupli- 
cation may  become  either  painful  or  pleasant.  A  feverish  dream  may 
simulate  the  confusions  of  insanity  —  cases  where  the  patient  believes 
himself  to  be  two  persons  at  once,  and  the  like.  [See  R.  L.  Steven- 
son's dream,  given  in  Appendix  II.  A.]  These  complications  rarely 
cause  the  dreamer  any  surprise.  One  may  even  say  that  with  the  first 
touch  of  sleep  the  superficial  unity  of  consciousness  disappears,  and 
that  the  dream  world  gives  a  truer  representation  than  the  waking  world 

1  On  this  subject  see  Du  Prel,  Philosophy  of  Mysticism,  Eng.  trans.,  vol.  i., 
passim. 


44  CHAPTER   II 

of  the  real  fractionation  or  multiplicity  existing  beneath  that  delusive 
simplicity  which  the  glare  of  waking  consciousness  imposes  upon  the 
mental  field  of  view. 

Bearing  these  analogies  in  mind,  we  shall  see  that  the  development  of 
somnambulism  out  of  ordinary  dream  is  no  isolated  oddity.  It  is  parallel 
to  the  development  of  a  secondary  state  from  idles  -fixes  when  these  have 
passed  a  certain  pitch  of  intensity.  The  sleep-waking  states  which  develop 
from  sleep  have  the  characteristics  which  we  should  expect  from  their 
largely  subliminal  origin.  They  are  less  coherent  than  waking  secondary 
personalities,  but  richer  in  supernormal  faculty.  It  is  in  connection  with 
displays  of  such  faculty  —  hyperesthesia  or  telaesthesia  —  that  they  have 
been  mainly  observed,  and  that  I  shall,  in  a  future  chapter,  have  most  need 
to  deal  with  them.  But  there  is  also  great  interest  simply  in  observing  what 
fraction  of  the  sleep-waker's  personality  is  able  to  hold  intercourse  with 
other  minds.  A  trivial  instance  of  such  intercourse  reduced  to  its  lowest 
point  has  often  recurred  to  me.  When  I  was  a  boy  another  boy  sleeping 
in  the  same  room  began  to  talk  in  his  sleep.  To  some  slight  extent  he 
could  answer  me;  and  the  names  and  other  words  uttered  —  Harry,  the 
boat,  etc.  —  were  appropriate  to  the  day's  incidents,  and  would  have  been 
enough  to  prove  to  me,  had  I  not  otherwise  known,  who  the  boy  was.  But 
his  few  coherent  remarks  represented  not  facts  but  dreaming  fancies  — 
the  boat  is  waiting,  and  so  forth.  This  trivial  jumble,  I  say,  has  since  re- 
curred to  me  as  precisely  parallel  to  many  communications  professing  to 
come  from  disembodied  spirits.  There  are  other  explanations,  no  doubt, 
but  one  explanation  of  such  incoherent  utterances  would  be  that  the  spirit 
was  speaking  under  conditions  resembling  those  in  which  this  sleeping 
boy  spoke. 

There  are,  of  course,  many  stages  above  this.  Spontaneous  somnam- 
bulistic states  become  longer  in  duration,  more  coherent  in  content,  and 
may  gradually  merge,  as  in  the  well-known  case  of  Felida  X.  (see  Appen- 
dix II.  C)  into  a  continuous  or  dimorphic  new  personality. 

The  transition  which  has  now  to  be  made  is  a  very  decided  one.  We 
have  been  dealing  with  a  class  of  secondary  personalities  consisting  of 
elements  emotionally  selected  from  the  total  or  primary  personality.  We 
have  seen  some  special  group  of  feelings  grow  to  morbid  intensity,  until  at 
last  it  dominates  the  sufferer's  mental  being,  either  fitfully  or  continuously, 
but  to  such  an  extent  that  he  is  "a  changed  person,"  not  precisely  insane, 
but  quite  other  than  he  was  when  in  normal  mental  health.  In  such 
cases  the  new  personality  is  of  course  dyed  in  the  morbid  emotion.  It 
is  a  kind  of  dramatic  impersonation,  say,  of  jealousy,  or  of  fear,  like  the 


DISINTEGRATIONS    OF    PERSONALITY       45 

case  of  "  demoniacal  possession,"  quoted  from  Dr.  Janet  in  Appendix  II. 
B.  In  other  respects  the  severance  between  the  new  and  the  old  self  is 
not  very  profound.  Dissociations  of  memory,  for  instance,  are  seldom 
beyond  the  reach  of  hypnotic  suggestion.  The  cleavage  has  not  gone 
down  to  the  depths  of  the  psychical  being. 

We  must  now  go  on  to  cases  where  the  origin  of  the  cleavage  seems 
to  us  quite  arbitrary,  but  where  the  cleavage  itself  seems  even  for  that 
very  reason  to  be  more  profound.  It  is  no  longer  a  question  of  some  one 
morbidly  exaggerated  emotion,  but  rather  of  a  scrap  of  the  personality 
taken  at  random  and  developing  apart  from  the  rest. 

The  commonest  mode  of  origin  for  such  secondary  personalities  is 
from  some  access  of  sleep-waking,  which,  instead  of  merging  into  sleep 
again,  repeats  and  consolidates  itself,  until  it  acquires  a  chain  of  memories 
of  its  own,  alternating  with  the  primary  chain.1 

And  now,  as  an  illustration  of  a  secondary  condition  purely  degen- 
erative, I  may  first  mention  post-epileptic  states,  although  they  belong  too 
definitely  to  pathology  for  full  discussion  here.  Post-epileptic  conditions 
may  run  parallel  to  almost  all  the  secondary  phases  which  we  have  de- 
scribed.   They  may  to  all  outward  semblance  closely  resemble  normality, 

—  differing  mainly  by  a  lack  of  rational  purpose,  and  perhaps  by  a  recur- 
rence to  the  habits  and  ideas  of  some  earlier  moment  in  the  patient's 
history.  Such  a  condition  resembles  some  hypnotic  trances,  and  some 
factitious  personalities  as  developed  by  automatic  writing.  Or,  again,  the 
post-epileptic  state  may  resemble  a  suddenly  developed  idee  fixe  triumphing 
over  all  restraint,  and  may  prompt  to  serious  crime,  abhorrent  to  the  nor- 
mal, but  premeditated  in  the  morbid  state.  There  could  not,  in  fact,  be 
a  better  example  of  the  unchecked  rule  of  middle-level  centres;  —  no 
longer  secretly  controlled,  as  in  hypnotic  trance,  by  the  higher-level  centres, 

—  which  centres  in  the  epileptic  are  in  a  state  not  merely  of  psychological 
abeyance,  but  of  physiological  exhaustion.2 

The  case  of  Ansel  Bourne  is  interesting  in  this  connection.3    Subject 

1  An  old  case  of  Dr.  Dyce's  (see  The  Zoist,  vol.  iv.  p.  158)  forms  a  simple 
example  of  this  type.  Dr.  Mesnet's  case  (De  V Automatisme  de  la  Memoire,  etc. 
Par  le  Dr.  Ernest  Mesnet,  Paris,  1874,  p.  18,  seq.)  should  also  be  referred  to  here. 
In  these  instances  the  secondary  state  is  manifestly  a  degeneration  of  the  primary 
state,  even  when  certain  traces  of  supernormal  faculty  are  discernible  in  the 
narrowed  psychical  field. 

See  The  Zoist,  vol.  iv.  pp.  172-79,  for  a  case  showing  the  inevitable  accomplish- 
ment of  a  post-epileptic  crime  in  such  a  way  as  to  bring  out  its  analogy  with  the 
inevitable  working  out  of  a  post-hypnotic  suggestion. 

3  See  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  vii.  pp.  221-258  [225  A]. 


46  CHAPTER   II 

from  childhood  to  fits  of  deep  depression,  and  presenting  in  later  life 
symptoms  suggestive  of  epilepsy,  Ansel  Bourne  was  struck  down  in  his 
thirty-first  year  by  what  was  supposed  to  be  a  severe  sunstroke.  Con- 
nected with  this  event  were  circumstances  which  led  to  a  profound  re- 
ligious conversion.  At  sixty-one  years  of  age,  being  at  that  time  an 
itinerant  preacher,  and  living  in  the  small  town  of  Greene,  in  the  State  of 
Rhode  Island,  Ansel  Bourne  disappeared  one  morning,  whilst  apparently 
in  his  usual  state  of  health,  and  remained  undiscovered  for  a  period  of 
two  months.  At  the  end  of  this  time  he  turned  up  at  Norristown,  Penn- 
sylvania, where  for  the  previous  six  weeks  he  had  been  keeping  a  small 
variety  store  under  the  name  of  A.  J.  Brown,  appearing  to  his  neigh- 
bours and  customers  as  an  ordinary  normal  person,  but  being,  as  it 
would  seem,  in  a  somnambulistic  condition  all  the  while.  When  he 
regained  his  ordinary  waking  consciousness,  Ansel  Bourne  lost  all 
memory  of  his  actions  while  in  his  secondary  state.  In  the  year  1890, 
however,  having  been  hypnotised  by  Professor  James,  he  was  able  while 
in  the  trance  state  to  give  an  account  of  his  doings  during  the  eight  weeks 
that  the  Brown  personality  lasted. 

In  this  case  it  is  perhaps  safest  to  regard  the  change  of  personality 
as  post-epileptic,  although  I  know  of  no  recorded  parallel  to  the  length 
of  time  during  which  the  influence  of  the  attack  must  have  continued. 
The  effect  on  mind  and  character  would  suit  well  enough  with  this  hypo- 
thesis. The  "Brown"  personality  showed  the  narrowness  of  interests 
and  the  uninquiring  indifference  which  is  common  in  such  states.  But 
on  this  theory  the  case  shows  one  striking  novelty,  namely,  the  recall 
by  the  aid  of  hypnotism  of  the  memory  of  the  post-epileptic  state.  It 
is  doubtful,  I  think,  whether  any  definite  post-epileptic  memory  had 
ever  previously  been  recovered.  On  the  other  hand,  it  is  doubtful  whether 
serious  recourse  had  ever  been  had  at  such  times  to  hypnotic  methods, 
whose  increasing  employment  certainly  differentiates  the  latter  from 
the  earlier  cases  of  split  personality  in  a  very  favourable  way.  And  this 
application  of  hypnotism  to  post-epileptic  states  affords  us  possibly  our 
best  chance  —  I  do  not  say  of  directly  checking  epilepsy,  but  of  getting 
down  to  the  obscure  conditions  which  predispose  to  each  attack. 

Next  we  may  mention  two  cases  reported  by  Dr.  Proust  and  M. 
Boeteau.  Dr.  Proust's  patient,1  Emile  X.,  aged  thirty-three,  was  a  barrister 
in  Paris.  Although  of  good  ability  and  education  in  classical  studies,  both 
as  a  boy  and  at  the  university  he  was  always  nervous  and  over  sensitive, 
showing  signs,  in  fact,  of  la  grande  hysterie.     During  his  attacks  he  ap- 

1  See  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  March  1890,  p.  267  [226  A], 


DISINTEGRATIONS    OF   PERSONALITY       47 

parently  underwent  no  loss  of  consciousness,  but  would  lose  the  memory 
of  all  his  past  life  during  a  few  minutes  or  a  few  days,  and  in  this  con- 
dition of  secondary  consciousness  would  lead  an  active  and  apparently 
normal  life.  From  such  a  state  he  woke  suddenly,  and  was  entirely 
without  memory  of  what  had  happened  to  him  in  this  secondary  state. 
This  memory  was,  however,  restored  by  hypnotism. 

M.  Boeteau's  patient,  Marie  M.,1  had  been  subject  to  hysterical  at- 
tacks since  she  was  twelve  years  old.  She  became  an  out-patient  at  the 
Hopital  Andral  for  these  attacks:  and  on  April  24,  1891,  being  then  twenty- 
two  years  old,  the  house  physician  there  advised  her  to  enter  the  surgical 
ward  at  the  Hotel-Dieu,  as  she  would  probably  need  an  operation  for 
an  internal  trouble.  Greatly  shocked  by  this  news,  she  left  the  hospital 
at  ten  a.m.,  and  lost  consciousness.  When  she  recovered  consciousness 
she  found  herself  in  quite  another  hospital  —  that  of  Ste.  Anne  —  at 
six  a.m.  on  April  27.  She  had  been  found  wandering  in  the  streets  of 
Paris,  in  the  evening  of  the  day  on  which  she  left  the  Hopital  Andral. 
On  returning  to  herself,  she  could  recollect  absolutely  nothing  of  what 
had  passed  in  the  interval.  While  she  was  thus  perplexed  at  her  un- 
explained fatigue  and  footsoreness,  and  at  the  gap  in  her  memory,  M. 
Boeteau  hypnotised  her.  She  passed  with  ease  into  the  hypnotic  state, 
and  at  once  remembered  the  events  which  filled  at  least  the  earlier  part 
of  the  gap  in  her  primary  consciousness. 

These  two  cases  belong  to  the  same  general  type  as  Ansel  Bourne's. 
There  does  not  seem,  however,  to  be  any  definite  evidence  that  the  sec- 
ondary state  was  connected  with  epileptic  attacks.  It  was  referred  rather 
by  the  physicians  who  witnessed  it  to  a  functional  derangement  ana- 
logous to  hysteria,  though  it  must  be  remembered  that  there  are  various 
forms  of  epilepsy  which  are  not  completely  understood,  and  some  of 
which  may  be  overlooked  by  persons  who  are  not  familiar  with  the  symp- 
toms. 

Another  remarkable  case  is  that  of  the  Rev.  Thomas  C.  Hanna,2  in 
whom  complete  amnesia  followed  an  accident.  By  means  of  a  method 
which  Dr.  Sidis  (who  studied  the  case)  calls  "hypnoidisation,"  he  was 
able  to  prove  that  the  patient  had  all  his  lost  memories  stored  in  his 
subliminal  consciousness,  and  could  temporarily  recall  them  to  the 
supraliminal.      By  degrees   the  two  personalities  which  had  developed 

1  See  the  Annates  Medico-Psychologiques  for  January  1892  [226  B]. 

2  For  full  details  of  this,  see  Dr.  Boris  Sidis's  work,  The  Psychology  of  Suggestion: 
a  Research  into  the  Subconscious  Nature  0}  Man  and  Society  (New  York,  1898), 
and  Multiple  Personality  by  Drs.  Boris  Sidis  and  S.  P.  Goodhart.     London,  1905. 


48  CHAPTER   II 

since  the  accident  were  thus  fused  into  one  and  the  patient  was  com- 
pletely cured. 

For  another  case  of  the  ambulatory  type,  like  Ansel  Bourne's,  but 
remarkable  in  that  it  was  associated  with  a  definite  physical  lesion  — 
an  abscess  in  the  ear  —  the  cure  of  which  was  followed  by  the  rapid 
return  of  the  patient  to  his  normal  condition,  see  Dr.  Drewry's  article 
in  the  Medico-Legal  Journal  for  June  1896  [228  A]. 

Again,  in  a  case  reported  by  Dr.  David  Skae,1  the  secondary  state 
seems  to  owe  its  origin  to  a  kind  of  tidal  exhaustion  of  vitality,  as  though 
the  repose  of  sleep  were  not  enough  to  sustain  the  weakened  personality, 
which  lapsed  on  alternate  days  into  exhaustion  and  incoherence. 

The  secondary  personalities  thus  far  dealt  with  have  been  the  spon- 
taneous results  of  some  form  of  misere  psychologique,  of  defective  integra- 
tion of  the  psychical  being.  But  there  are  also  cases  where,  the  cohesion 
being  thus  released,  a  slight  touch  from  without  can  effect  dissociations 
which,  however  shallow  and  almost  playful  in  their  first  inception,  may 
stiffen  by  repetition  into  phases  as  marked  and  definite  as  those  secondary 
states  which  spring  up  of  themselves,  that  is  to  say,  from  self-sugges- 
tions which  we  cannot  trace.  In  Professor  Janet's  V Automatisme  Psy- 
chologique the  reader  will  find  some  instructive  examples  of  these  fictitious 
secondary  personalities  [230  A  and  B]. 

Up  to  this  point  the  secondary  states  which  we  have  considered,  how- 
ever startling  to  old-fashioned  ideas  of  personality,  may,  at  any  rate,  be 
regarded  as  forms  of  mental  derangement  or  decay  —  varieties  on  a  theme 
already  known.  Now,  however,  we  approach  a  group  of  cases  to  which  it 
is  difficult  to  make  any  such  definition  apply.  They  are  cases  where  the 
secondary  state  is  not  obviously  a  degeneration;  —  where  it  may  even 
appear  to  be  in  some  ways  an  improvement  on  the  primary;  so  that  one  is 
left  wondering  how  it  came  about  that  the  man  either  originally  was  what 
he  was,  or  —  being  what  he  was  —  suddenly  became  something  so  very 
different.  There  has  been  a  shake  given  to  the  kaleidoscope,  and  no  one 
can  say  why  either  arrangement  of  the  component  pieces  should  have  had 
the  priority. 

In  the  classical  case  of  Felida  X.  the  second  state  is,  as  regards  health 
and  happiness,  markedly  superior  to  the  first.     (See  Appendix  II.  C.) 

The  old  case  of  Mary  Reynolds2  is  again  remarkable  in  respect  of  the 
change  of  character  involved.  The  deliverance  from  gloomy  preoccupa- 
tions —  the  childish  insouciance  of  the  secondary  state  —  again  illustrates 

1  Zoist  vol.  iv.  p.  185  [229  A]. 

2  See  Professor  W.  James's  Principles  of  Psychology,  vol.  1.  pp.  381-84  [232  A]. 


DISINTEGRATIONS    OF   PERSONALITY       49 

the  difference  between  these  allotropic  changes  or  reconstructions  of  per- 
sonality and  that  mere  predominance  of  a  morbid  factor  which  marked 
the  cases  of  idee  fixe  and  hysteria.  Observe,  also,  in  Mary  Reynolds's 
case  the  tendency  of  the  two  states  gradually  to  coalesce  apparently  in  a 
third  phase  likely  to  be  preferable  to  either  of  the  two  already  known. 

We  now  come  to  spontaneous  cases  of  multiple  personality,  of 
which  Louis  Vive's  is  one  of  the  best  known.  Louis  Vive  exhibited  an 
extraordinary  number  and  variety  of  phases  of  personality,  affording  an 
extreme  example  of  dissociations  dependent  on  time-relations,  on  the 
special  epoch  of  life  in  which  the  subject  was  ordered  to  find  himself.1 
Among  various  conditions  of  his  organism  —  all  but  one  of  them  imply- 
ing, or  at  least  simulating,  some  grave  central  lesion  —  any  given  con- 
dition could  be  revived  in  a  moment,  and  the  whole  gamut  of  changes 
rung  on  his  nervous  system  as  easily  as  if  one  were  setting  back  or  for- 
ward a  continuous  cinematograph.  It  is  hard  to  frame  a  theory  of 
memory  which  shall  admit  of  these  sudden  reversions,  —  of  playing  fast 
and  loose  in  this  manner  with  the  accumulated  impressions  of  years. 

Yet  if  Louis  Vive's  case  thus  strangely  intensifies  the  already  puzzling 
notion  of  ecmnesia  —  as  though  the  whole  organism  could  be  tricked  into 
forgetting  the  events  which  had  most  deeply  stamped  it  —  what  are  we  to 
say  to  Dr.  Morton  Prince's  case  of  "  Sally  Beauchamp,"2  with  its  grotesque 
exaggeration  of  a  subliminal  self  —  a  kind  of  hostile  bedfellow  which 
knows  everything  and  remembers  everything  —  which  mocks  the  emotions 
and  thwarts  the  projects  of  the  ordinary  reasonable  self  which  can  be  seen 
and  known?  The  case  must  be  studied  in  full  as  it  stands;  its  later 
developments  may  help  to  unravel  the  mysteries  which  its  earlier  stages 
have  already  woven.3 

I  quote  in  full  in  the  text  the  next  case,  reported  by  Dr.  R.  Osgood 

1  For  Dr.  Camuset's  account  see  Annates  Medico-Psychologiques,  1882,  p.  75; 
for  Dr.  Voisin's,  Archives  de  Nevrotogie,  September  1885.  The  observations  at 
Rochefort  have  been  carefully  recorded  by  Dr.  Berjon,  La  Grande  Hysterie  chez 
VHomme,  Paris,  1886,  and  by  Drs.  Bourru  and  Burot  in  a  treatise,  De  la  suggestion 
mentale,  &c.  (Bibl.  scientifique  contemporaine) ,  Paris,  1887  [233  A]. 

2  See  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  xv.  pp.  466-483  [234  A]  and  the  more  complete 
account  given  in  Dr.  Morton  Prince's  Dissociation  of  a  Personality.  New  York 
and  London,  1906. 

3  Besides  the  cases  mentioned  above  see  a  remarkable  recent  case  recorded  by 
Dr.  Bramwell  in  Brain,  Summer  Number,  1900,  on  the  authority  of  Dr.  Albert 
Wilson,  of  Leytonstone.  Dr.  Wilson  has  given  a  detailed  account  of  his  patient, 
Mary  Barnes,  in  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  xviii.  pp.  352-416,  where  a  full  dis- 
cussion of  the  case  will  also  be  found.  Mary  Barnes  developed  sixteen  different 
personalities  with  distinct  memories  and  different  characteristics. 


50  CHAPTER   II 

Mason  (in  a  paper  entitled  " Duplex  Personality:  its  Relation  to  Hyp- 
notism and  to  Lucidity,"  in  the  Journal  oj  the  American  Medical  Asso- 
ciation, November  30th,  1895).     Dr.  Mason  writes:  — 

Alma  Z.  was  an  unusually  healthy  and  intellectual  girl,  a  strong  and 
attractive  character,  a  leading  spirit  in  whatever  she  undertook,  whether 
in  study,  sport,  or  society.  From  overwork  in  school,  and  overtaxed 
strength  in  a  case  of  sickness  at  home,  her  health  was  completely  broken 
down,  and  after  two  years  of  great  suffering  suddenly  a  second  personality 
appeared.  In  a  peculiar  child-like  and  Indian-like  dialect  she  announced 
herself  as  "  Twoey,"  and  that  she  had  come  to  help  "Number  One"  in  her 
suffering.  The  condition  of  " Number  One"  was  at  this  time  most  de- 
plorable; there  was  great  pain,  extreme  debility,  frequent  attacks  of  syn- 
cope, insomnia,  and  a  mercurial  stomatitis  which  had  been  kept  up  for 
months  by  way  of  medical  treatment  and  which  rendered  it  nearly  im- 
possible to  take  nourishment  in  any  form.  "Twoey"  was  vivacious  and 
cheerful,  full  of  quaint  and  witty  talk,  never  lost  consciousness,  and  could 
take  abundant  nourishment,  which  she  declared  she  must  do  for  the  sake 
of  "Number  One."  Her  talk  was  most  quaint  and  fascinating,  but  with- 
out a  trace  of  the  acquired  knowledge  of  the  primary  personality.  She 
gave  frequent  evidence  of  supranormal  intelligence  regarding  events 
transpiring  in  the  neighbourhood.  It  was  at  this  time  that  the  case  came 
under  my  observation,  and  has  remained  so  for  the  past  ten  years.  Four 
years  later,  under  depressing  circumstances,  a  third  personality  made 
its  appearance  and  announced  itself  as  "The  Boy."  This  personality 
was  entirely  distinct  and  different  from  either  of  the  others.  It  remained 
the  chief  alternating  personality  for  four  years,  when  "Twoey"  again 
returned. 

All  these  personalities,  though  absolutely  different  and  characteristic, 
were  delightful  each  in  its  own  way,  and  "Twoey"  especially  was,  and 
still  is,  the  delight  of  the  friends  who  are  permitted  to  know  her,  when- 
ever she  makes  her  appearance;  and  this  is  always  at  times  of  unusual 
fatigue,  mental  excitement,  or  prostration;  then  she  comes  and  remains 
days  at  a  time.  The  original  self  retains  her  superiority  when  she  is  present, 
and  the  others  are  always  perfectly  devoted  to  her  interest  and  comfort. 
"Number  One"  has  no  personal  knowledge  of  either  of  the  other  per- 
sonalities, but  she  knows  them  well,  and  especially  "Twoey,"  from  the 
report  of  others  and  from  characteristic  letters  which  are  often  received 
from  her;  and  "Number  One"  greatly  enjoys  the  spicy,  witty,  and  often 
useful  messages  which  come  to  her  through  these  letters  and  the  report 
of  friends. 

Dr.  Mason  goes  on  to  say:  — 

Here  are  three  cases  [the  one  just  given,  that  of  another  patient  of 
his  own,  and  that  of  Felida  X]  in  which  a  second  personality  —  perfectly 
sane,  thoroughly  practical,  and  perfectly  in  touch  and  harmony  with  its 
surroundings  —  came  to  the  surface,  so  to  speak,  and  assumed  absolute 
control  of  the  physical  organisation  for  long  periods  of  time  together. 


DISINTEGRATIONS    OF   PERSONALITY       51 

During  the  stay  of  the  second  personality  the  primary  or  original  self 
was  entirely  blotted  out,  and  the  time  so  occupied  was  a  blank.  In  neither 
of  the  cases  described  had  the  primary  self  any  knowledge  of  the  second 
personality,  except  from  the  report  of  others  or  letters  from  the  second 
self,  left  where  they  could  be  found  on  the  return  of  the  primary  self  to 
consciousness.  The  second  personality,  on  the  other  hand,  in  each  case, 
knew  of  the  primary  self,  but  only  as  another  person  —  never  as  forming 
a  part  of,  or  in  any  way  belonging  to  their  own  personalities.  In  the  case 
of  both  Felida  X.  and  Alma  Z.,  there  was  always  immediate  and  marked 
improvement  in  the  physical  condition  when  the  second  personality  made 
its  appearance. 

The  case  of  Mollie  Fancher,1  which,  had  it  been  observed  and  recorded 
with  scientific  accuracy,  might  have  been  one  of  the  most  instructive 
of  all,  seems  to  stand  midway  between  the  transformations  of  Louis  Vive 
—  each  of  them  frankly  himself  at  a  different  epoch  of  life  —  and  the 
"  pseudo-possessions "  of  imaginary  spirits  with  which  we  shall  in  a  later 
chapter  have  to  deal. 

The  case  of  Anna  Winsor2  goes  so  far  further  in  its  suggestion  of  in- 
terference from  without  that  it  presents  to  us,  at  any  rate,  a  contrast  and 
even  conflict  between  positive  insanity  on  the  part  of  the  organism  gen- 
erally with  wise  and  watchful  sanity  on  the  part  of  a  single  limb,  with 
which  that  organism  professes  to  have  no  longer  any  concern. 

The  last  case3  that  I  shall  mention  is  that  of  Miss  Mary  Lurancy 
Vennum,  the  "Watseka  Wonder." 

The  case  briefly  is  one  of  alleged  " possession,"  or  "spirit-control." 
The  subject  of  the  account,  a  girl  nearly  fourteen  years  old,  living  at  Wat- 
seka, Illinois,  became  apparently  controlled  by  the  spirit  of  Mary  RofT, 
a  neighbour's  daughter,  who  had  died  at  the  age  of  eighteen  years  and 
nine  months,  when  Lurancy  Vennum  was  a  child  of  about  fifteen  months 
old.  The  most  extraordinary  feature  in  the  case  was  that  the  control, 
by  Mary  Roff  lasted  almost  continuously  for  a  period  of  four  months. 

For  the  present  we  must  consider  this  case  as  a  duplication  of  per- 
sonality—  a  pseudo-possession,  if  you  will  —  determined  in  a  hysterical 
child  by  the  suggestion  of  friends,  but  at  a  later  stage,  and  when  some 
other  wonders  have  become  more  familiar  than  now,  we  may  find  that 
this  singular  narrative  has  further  lessons  to  teach  us. 

We  have  now  briefly  surveyed  a  series  of  disintegrations  of  personality 

1  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  xiv.  396-398  [236  A], 

2  Proceedings  of  American  S.P.R.,  vol.  i.  p.  552  [237  A]. 

For  a  detaifed   record  of  this  case  see  the  Religio-Philosophical  Journal  for 
1879.     An  abridgment  is  given  in  [238  A].     See  also  Journal  S.P.R.,  vol.  x.  p.  99. 


52  CHAPTER    II 

ranging  from  the  most  trifling  idee  fixe  to  actual  alternations  or  permanent 
changes  of  the  whole  type  of  character.  All  these  form  a  kind  of  con- 
tinuous series,  and  illustrate  the  structure  of  the  personality  in  concordant 
ways.  There  do  exist,  it  must  be  added,  other  forms  of  modified  per- 
sonality with  which  I  shall  not  at  present  deal.  Those  are  cases  where 
some  telepathic  influence  from  outside  has  been  at  work,  so  that  there  is 
not  merely  dissociation  of  existing  elements,  but  apparent  introduction  of  a 
novel  element.  Such  cases  also  pass  through  a  long  series,  from  small 
phenomena  of  motor  automatism  up  to  trance  and  so-called  possession. 
But  all  this  group  I  mention  here  merely  in  order  to  defer  their  discussion 
to  later  chapters. 

The  brief  review  already  made  will  suffice  to  indicate  the  complex  and 
separable  nature  of  the  elements  of  human  personality.  Of  course  a  far 
fuller  list  might  have  been  given;  many  phenomena  of  actual  insanity 
would  need  to  be  cited  in  any  complete  conspectus.  But  hysteria  is  in 
some  ways  a  better  dissecting  agent  than  any  other  where  delicate  psychical 
dissociations  are  concerned.  Just  as  the  microscopist  stains  a  particular 
tissue  for  observation,  so  does  hysteria  stain  with  definiteness,  as  it  were, 
particular  synergies  —  definite  complexes  of  thought  and  action  —  more 
manifestly  than  any  grosser  lesion,  any  more  profound  or  persistent  injury 
could  do.  Hysterical  mutism,  for  instance  (the  observation  is  Charcot's1), 
supplies  almost  the  only  cases  where  the  faculty  of  vocal  utterance  is  at- 
tacked in  a  quite  isolated  way.  In  aphasia  dependent  upon  organic  injury 
we  generally  find  other  word-memories  attacked  also,  —  elements  of 
agraphy,  of  word-blindness,  of  word-deafness  appear.  In  the  hysteric  the 
incapacity  to  speak  may  be  the  single  symptom.  So  with  anaesthesia?;  we 
find  in  hysteria  a  separation  of  sensibility  to  heat  and  to  pain,  possibly  even 
a  separate  subsistence  of  electrical  sensibility.  It  is  worth  remarking  here 
that  it  was  during  the  hypnotic  trance,  which  in  delicacy  of  discriminating 
power  resembles  hysteria,  that  (so  far  as  I  can  make  out)  the  distinctness 
of  the  temperature-sense  from  the  pain-sense  was  first  observed.  Esdaile, 
when  removing  tumours  under  mesmerism  in  Calcutta,  noticed  that 
patients,  who  were  actually  undergoing  capital  operations  without  a 
murmur,  complained  if  a  draught  blew  in  upon  them  from  an  open  window. 

Nor  is  it  only  as  a  dissecting  agent  that  hysteria  can  aid  our  research. 
There  are  in  hysteria  frequent  acquisitions  as  well  as  losses  of  faculty.  It 
is  not  unusual  to  find  great  hyperesthesia  in  certain  special  directions  — 
of  touch,  hearing,  perception  of  light,  etc.  —  combined  with  hysterical 
loss  of  sensation  of  other  kinds.  This  subject  will  be  more  conveniently 
1  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  July  1889. 


DISINTEGRATIONS    OF   PERSONALITY       53 

treated  along  with  the  hyperesthesia  of  the  hypnotic  trance.  But  I  may 
note  here  that  just  such  occasional  quickenings  of  faculty  were,  in  my 
view,  almost  certain  to  accompany  that  instability  of  psychical  threshold 
which  is  the  distinguishing  characteristic  of  hysteria,  since  I  hold  that 
subliminal  faculty  habitually  overpasses  supraliminal.  These  also  are 
a  kind  of  capricious  idees  fixes;  only  the  caprice  in  such  cases  raises  what 
was  previously  submerged  instead  of  exaggerating  what  was  previously 
emergent. 

And  from  this  point  it  is  that  our  inquiries  must  now  take  their  fresh 
departure.  We  in  this  work  are  concerned  with  changes  which  are  the 
converse  of  hysterical  changes.  We  are  looking  for  integrations  in  lieu  of 
disintegrations;  for  intensifications  of  control,  widenings  of  faculty,  instead 
of  relaxation,  scattering,  or  decay. 

Suppose,  then,  that  in  a  case  of  instability  of  the  psychical  threshold, 
—  ready  permeability,  if  you  will,  of  the  psychical  diaphragm  separating 
the  supraliminal  from  the  subliminal  self,  —  the  elements  of  emergence 
tend  to  increase  and  the  elements  of  submergence  to  diminish.  Suppose 
that  the  permeability  depends  upon  the  force  of  the  uprushes  from  below 
the  diaphragm  rather  than  on  the  tendency  to  sink  downwards  from  above 
it.  We  shall  then  reach  the  point  where  the  vague  name  of  hysteria  must 
give  place  to  the  vague  name  of  genius.  The  uprushes  from  the  sub- 
liminal self  will  now  be  the  important  feature;  the  down-draught  from 
the  supraliminal,  if  it  still  exists,  will  be  trivial  in  comparison.  The  con- 
tent of  the  uprush  will  be  congruous  with  the  train  of  voluntary  thought; 
and  the  man  of  genius  will  be  a  man  more  capable  than  others  of  utilising 
for  his  waking  purposes  the  subliminal  region  of  his  being. 

Next  in  order  to  the  uprushes  of  genius  will  come  the  uprushes  of  dream. 
All  men  pass  normally  and  healthily  into  a  second  phase  of  personality, 
alternating  with  the  first.  That  is  sleep,  and  sleep  is  characterised  by  those 
incoherent  forms  of  subliminal  uprush  which  we  know  as  dreams.  It  is 
here  that  our  evidence  for  telepathy  and  telaesthesia  will  first  present  itself 
for  discussion.  Sleep  will  indicate  the  existence  of  submerged  faculty  of 
a  rarer  type  than  even  that  to  which  genius  has  already  testified. 

There  are,  moreover,  other  states,  both  spontaneous  and  induced, 
analogous  to  sleep,  and  these  will  form  the  subject  of  the  fifth  chapter, 
that  on  Hypnotism.  Hypnotism,  however,  does  not  mean  trance  or  som- 
nambulism only.  It  is  a  name,  if  not  for  the  whole  ensemble,  yet  for  a 
large  group  of  those  artifices  which  we  have  as  yet  discovered  for  the  pur- 
pose of  eliciting  and  utilising  subliminal  faculty.  The  results  of  hypnotic 
suggestion  will  be  found  to  imitate  sometimes  the  subliminal  uprushes 


54  CHAPTER   II 

of  genius,  and  sometimes  the  visions  of  spontaneous  somnambulism;  while 
they  also  open  to  us  fresh  and  characteristic  accesses  into  subliminal 
knowledge  and  power. 

Further  than  this  point  our  immediate  forecast  need  not  go.  But 
when  we  have  completed  the  survey  here  indicated,  we  shall  see,  I  think, 
how  significant  are  the  phenomena  of  hysteria  in  any  psychological  scheme 
which  aims  at  including  the  hidden  powers  of  man.  For  much  as  the 
hysteric  stands  in  comparison  to  us  ordinary  men,  so  perhaps  do  we 
ordinary  men  stand  in  comparison  with  a  not  impossible  ideal  of  faculty 
and  of  self-control. 

But  apart  from  these  broader  speculations,  it  has  become  evident 
that  disturbances  of  personality  are  not  mere  empty  marvels,  but  psycho- 
pathological  problems  of  the  utmost  interest :  —  no  one  of  them  exactly 
like  another,  and  no  one  of  them  without  some  possible  apergu  into  the 
intimate  structure  of  man. 

The  purpose  of  this  book,  of  course,  is  not  primarily  practical.  It 
aims  rather  at  the  satisfaction  of  scientific  curiosity  as  to  man's  psychical 
structure;  esteeming  that  as  a  form  of  experimental  research  which  the 
more  urgent  needs  of  therapeutics  have  kept  in  the  background  too  long. 
Yet  it  may  not  have  been  amiss  to  realise  thus,  on  the  threshold  of  our 
discussion,  that  already  even  the  most  delicate  speculations  in  this  line 
have  found  their  justification  in  helpful  act;  that  strange  bewilderments, 
paralysing  perturbations,  which  no  treatment  could  alleviate,  no  drug 
control,  have  been  soothed  and  stablished  into  sanity  by  some  appropriate 
and  sagacious  mode  of  appeal  to  a  natura  medicatrix  deep-hidden  in  the 
labouring  breast. 


CHAPTER  III 
GENIUS 

Igneus  est  ollis  vigor  et  coelestis  origo 
Seminibus,  quantum  non  noxia  corpora  tardant 
Terrenique  hebetant  artus  moribundaque  membra. 

—  Virgil. 

In  my  second  chapter  I  made  no  formal  attempt  to  define  that  human 
personality  which  is  to  form  the  main  subject  of  this  book.  I  was  con- 
tent to  take  the  conception  roughly  for  granted,  and  to  enter  at  once  on 
the  study  of  the  lapses  of  personality  into  abnormal  conditions,  —  short 
of  the  lowest  depths  of  idiocy  or  madness.  From  that  survey  it  appeared 
that  these  degenerations  could  be  traced  to  some  defect  in  that  central 
control  which  ought  to  clasp  and  integrate  into  steady  manhood  the  hie- 
rarchies of  living  cells  which  compose  the  human  organism.  This  insight 
into  the  Self's  decay  was  the  needed  prerequisite  to  our  present  task  — 
that  of  apprehending  its  true  normality,  and  thereafter  of  analysing  certain 
obscurer  faculties  which  indicate  the  line  of  its  evolution  during  and  after 
the  life  of  earth. 

Strength  and  concentration  of  the  inward  unifying  control  —  that 
must  be  the  true  normality  which  we  seek;  and  in  seeking  it  we  must  re- 
member how  much  of  psychical  operation  goes  on  below  the  conscious 
threshold,  imperfectly  obedient  to  any  supraliminal  appeal.  What  advance 
can  we  make  in  inward  mastery  ?  how  far  extend  our  grasp  over  the  whole 
range  of  faculty  with  which  we  are  obscurely  endowed? 

"Human  perfectibility"  has  been  the  theme  of  many  enthusiasts; 
and  many  Utopian  schemes  of  society  have  been  and  still  are  suggested, 
which  postulate  in  the  men  and  women  of  the  future  an  increase  in  moral 
and  physical  health  and  vigour.  And  it  is  plain  that  in  a  broad  and  general 
way  natural  selection,  sexual  selection,  and  the  advance  of  science  are 
working  together  towards  improvements  of  these  kinds.  But  it  is  plain 
also  that  these  onward  tendencies,  at  least  in  comparison  with  our  desires 
and  ideals,  are  slow  and  uncertain;  and  it  is  possible  to  argue  that  the 

55 


56  CHAPTER    III 

apparent  advance  in  our  race  is  due  merely  to  the  improvement  which 
science  has  affected  in  its  material  environment,  and  not  to  any  real  de- 
velopment, during  the  historical  period,  in  the  character  or  faculties  of 
man  himself.  Nay,  since  we  have  no  means  of  knowing  to  what  extent 
any  genus  has  an  inward  potentiality  of  improvement,  it  is  possible  for 
the  pessimist  to  argue  that  the  genus  homo  has  reached  its  fore-ordained 
evolutionary  limit;  so  that  it  cannot  be  pushed  further  in  any  direction 
without  risk  of  nervous  instability,  sterility,  and  ultimate  extinction.  Some 
dim  apprehension  of  this  kind  lends  plausibility  to  many  popular  dia- 
tribes. Dr.  Max  Nordau's  works  afford  a  well-known  example  of  this 
line  of  protest  against  the  present  age  as  an  age  of  overwork  and  of 
nervous  exhaustion.  And  narrowing  the  vague  discussion  to  a  somewhat 
more  definite  test,  Professor  Lombroso  and  other  anthropologists  have 
discussed  the  characteristics  of  the  "man  of  genius";  with  the  result  of 
showing  (as  they  believe)  that  this  apparently  highest  product  of  the 
race  is  in  reality  not  a  culminant  but  an  aberrant  manifestation;  and 
that  men  of  genius  must  be  classed  with  criminals  and  lunatics,  as 
persons  in  whom  a  want  of  balance  or  completeness  of  organisation  has 
led  on  to  an  over-development  of  one  side  of  the  nature;  —  helpful  or 
injurious  to  other  men  as  accident  may  decide. 

On  this  point  I  shall  join  issue;  and  I  shall  suggest,  on  the  other  hand, 
that  Genius  —  if  that  vaguely  used  word  is  to  receive  anything  like  a 
psychological  definition  —  should  rather  be  regarded  as  a  power  of  utilising 
a  wider  range  than  other  men  can  utilise  of  faculties  in  some  degree  innate 
in  all;  —  a  power  of  appropriating  the  results  of  subliminal  mentation 
to  subserve  the  supraliminal  stream  of  thought;  —  so  that  an  "inspiration 
of  Genius"  will  be  in  truth  a  subliminal  uprush,  an  emergence  into  the 
current  of  ideas  which  the  man  is  consciously  manipulating  of  other  ideas 
which  he  has  not  consciously  originated,  but  which  have  shaped  them- 
selves beyond  his  will,  in  profounder  regions  of  his  being.  I  shall  urge 
that  there  is  here  no  real  departure  from  normality;  no  abnormality,  at 
least  in  the  sense  of  degeneration;  but  rather  a  fulfilment  of  the  true  norm 
of  man,  with  suggestions,  it  may  be,  of  something  supernormal;  —  of 
something  which  transcends  existing  normality  as  an  advanced  stage  of 
evolutionary  progress  transcends  an  earlier  stage. 

But  before  proceeding  further  I  wish  to  guard  against  a  possible  mis- 
apprehension. I  shall  be  obliged  in  this  chapter  to  dwell  on  valuable 
aid  rendered  by  subliminal  mentation;  but  I  do  not  mean  to  imply  that 
such  mentation  is  ipso  facto  superior  to  supraliminal,  or  even  that  it  covers 
a  large  proportion  of  practically  useful  human  achievement.     When  I 


GENIUS  57 

say  "  The  differentia  of  genius  lies  in  an  increased  control  over  subliminal 
mentation,"  I  express,  I  think,  a  well-evidenced  thesis,  and  I  suggest  an 
important  inference,  —  namely,  that  the  man  of  genius  is  for  us  the  best 
type  of  the  normal  man,  in  so  far  as  he  effects  a  successful  co-operation 
of  an  unusually  large  number  of  elements  of  his  personality  —  reaching 
a  stage  of  integration  slightly  in  advance  of  our  own.  Thus  much  I  wish 
to  say:  but  my  thesis  is  not  to  be  pushed  further:  —  as  though  I  claimed 
that  all  our  best  thought  was  subliminal,  or  that  all  that  was  subliminal 
was  potentially  "  inspiration." 

It  is  true,  however,  that  the  range  of  our  subliminal  mentation  is  more 
extended  than  the  range  of  our  supraliminal.  At  one  end  of  the  scale 
we  find  dreams ,  —  a  normal  subliminal  product,  but  of  less  practical 
value  than  any  form  of  sane  supraliminal  thought.  At  the  other  end  of 
the  scale  we  find  that  the  rarest,  most  precious  knowledge  comes  to  us 
from  outside  the  ordinary  field,  —  through  the  eminently  subliminal 
processes  of  telepathy,  telaesthesia,  ecstasy.  And  between  these  two 
extremes  lie  many  subliminal  products,  varying  in  value  according  to 
the  dignity  and  trustworthiness  of  the  subliminal  mentation  concerned. 

This  last  phrase  —  inevitably  obscure  —  may  be  illustrated  by  refer- 
ence to  that  hierarchical  arrangement  of  supraliminal  action  and  percep- 
tion which  Dr.  Hughlings  Jackson  has  so  used  as  to  clear  up  much  previous 
confusion  of  thought.  Following  him,  we  now  speak  of  highest-level 
nerve-centres,  governing  our  highest,  most  complex  thought  and  will; 
of  middle-level  centres,  governing  movements  of  voluntary  muscles,  and 
the  like;  and  of  lowest-level  centres  (which  from  my  point  of  view  are 
purely  subliminal),  governing  those  automatic  processes,  as  respiration 
and  circulation,  which  are  independent  of  conscious  rule,  but  necessary 
to  the  maintenance  of  life.  We  can  roughly  judge  from  the  nature  of  any 
observed  action  whether  the  highest-level  centres  are  directing  it,  or  whether 
they  are  for  the  time  inhibited,  so  that  middle-level  centres  operate  un- 
controlled. 

Thus  ordinary  speech  and  writing  are  ruled  by  highest-level  centres. 
But  when  an  epileptic  discharge  of  nervous  energy  has  exhausted  the 
highest-level  centres,  we  see  the  middle-level  centres  operating  unchecked, 
and  producing  the  convulsive  movements  of  arms  and  legs  in  the  "fit." 
As  these  centres  in  their  turn  become  exhausted,  the  patient  is  left  to 
the  guidance  of  lowest-level  centres  alone;  —  that  is  to  say,  he  becomes 
comatose,  though  he  continues  to  breathe  as  regularly  as  usual. 

Now  this  series  of  phenomena,  —  descending  in  coherence  and  co- 
ordination from  an  active  consensus  of  the  whole  organism  to  a  mere 


58  CHAPTER    III 

automatic  maintenance  of  its  most  stably  organised  processes,  —  may 
be  pretty  closely  paralleled  by  the  series  of  subliminal  phenomena  also. 

Sometimes  we  seem  to  see  our  subliminal  perceptions  and  faculties 
acting  truly  in  unity,  truly  as  a  Self;  —  co-ordinated  into  some  harmonious 
"  inspiration  of  genius,"  or  some  profound  and  reasonable  hypnotic  self- 
reformation,  or  some  far-reaching  supernormal  achievement  of  clairvoyant 
vision  or  of  self-projection  into  a  spiritual  world.  Whatever  of  subliminal 
personality  is  thus  acting  corresponds  with  the  highest-level  centres  of 
supraliminal  life.  At  such  moments  the  subliminal  represents  (as  I  believe) 
most  nearly  what  will  become  the  surviving  Self. 

But  it  seems  that  this  degree  of  clarity,  of  integration,  cannot  be  long 
preserved.  Much  oftener  we  find  the  subliminal  perceptions  and  facul- 
ties acting  in  less  co-ordinated,  less  coherent  ways.  We  have  products 
which,  while  containing  traces  of  some  faculty  beyond  our  common  scope, 
involve,  nevertheless,  something  as  random  and  meaningless  as  the  dis- 
charge of  the  uncontrolled  middle-level  centres  of  arms  and  legs  in  the 
epileptic  fit.  We  get,  in  short,  a  series  of  phenomena  which  the  term 
dream-like  seems  best  to  describe. 

In  the  realm  of  genius,  —  of  uprushes  of  thought  and  feeling  fused 
beneath  the  conscious  threshold  into  artistic  shape,  —  we  get  no  longer 
masterpieces  but  half-insanities,  —  not  the  Sistine  Madonna,  but  Wiertz's 
Vision  of  the  Guillotined  Head;  not  Kubla  Khan,  but  the  disordered 
opium  dream.  Throughout  all  the  work  of  William  Blake  (I  should  say) 
we  see  the  subliminal  self  flashing  for  moments  into  unity,  then  smoulder- 
ing again  in  a  lurid  and  scattered  glow. 

In  the  realm  of  hypnotism,  again,  we  sink  from  the  reasonable  self- 
suggestion  to  the  "  platform  experiments,"  —  the  smelling  of  ammonia, 
the  eating  of  tallow  candles;  — all  the  tricks  which  show  a  profound  control, 
but  not  a  wise  control,  over  the  arcana  of  organic  life.  I  speak,  of  course, 
of  the  subject's  own  control  over  his  organism;  for  in  the  last  resort  it  is 
he  and  not  his  hypnotiser  who  really  exercises  that  directive  power.  And 
I  compare  these  tricks  of  middle-level  subliminal  centres  to  the  powerful 
yet  irrational  control  which  the  middle-level  centres  ruling  the  epileptic's 
arms  and  legs  exercise  over  his  muscles  in  the  violence  of  the  epileptic 
attack. 

And  so  again  with  the  automatisms  which  are,  one  may  say,  the 
subliminal  self's  peculiar  province.  Automatic  script,  for  instance,  may 
represent  highest-level  subliminal  centres,  even  when  no  extraneous  spirit, 
but  the  automatist's  own  mind  alone,  is  concerned.  It  will  then  give 
us  true  telepathic  messages,  or  perhaps  messages  of  high  moral  import, 


GENIUS  59 

surpassing  the  automatist's  conscious  powers.  But  much  oftener  the 
automatic  script  is  regulated  by  what  I  have  called  middle-level  subliminal 
centres  only;  —  and  then,  though  we  may  have  scraps  of  supernormal 
intelligence,  we  have  confusion  and  incoherence  as  well.  We  have  the 
falsity  which  the  disgusted  automatist  is  sometimes  fain  to  ascribe  to  a 
devil;  though  it  is  in  reality  not  a  devil,  but  a  dream. 

And  hence  again,  just  as  the  epileptic  sinks  lower  and  lower  in  the 
fit,  —  from  the  incoordinated  movements  of  the  limbs  down  to  the  mere 
stertorous  breathing  of  coma,  —  so  do  these  incoherent  automatisms 
sink  down  at  last,  through  the  utterances  and  drawings  of  the  degenerate 
and  the  paranoiac,  —  through  mere  fragmentary  dreams,  or  vague  im- 
personal bewilderment,  —  into  the  minimum  psychical  concomitant, 
whatever  that  be,  which  must  coexist  with  brain-circulation. 

Such  is  the  apparent  parallelism;  but  of  course  no  knowledge  of  a 
hierarchy  of  the  familiar  forms  of  nervous  action  can  really  explain  to  us 
the  mysterious  fluctuations  of  subliminal  power. 

When  we  speak  of  the  highest-level  and  other  centres  which  govern 
our  supraliminal  being,  and  which  are  fitted  to  direct  this  planetary  life 
in  a  material  world,  we  can  to  some  extent  point  out  actual  brain-centres 
whose  action  enables  us  to  meet  those  needs.  What  are  the  needs  of 
our  cosmic  life  we  do  not  know;  nor  can  we  indicate  any  point  in  our 
organism  (as  in  the  "solar  plexus,"  or  the  like),  which  is  adapted  to 
meet  them.  We  cannot  even  either  affirm  or  deny  that  such  spiritual 
life  as  we  maintain  while  incarnated  in  this  material  envelope  involves 
any  physical  concomitants  at  all. 

For  my  part,  I  feel  forced  to  fall  back  upon  the  old-world  conception 
of  a  soul  which  exercises  an  imperfect  and  fluctuating  control  over  the 
organism;  and  exercises  that  control,  I  would  add,  along  two  main  chan- 
nels, only  partly  coincident  —  that  of  ordinary  consciousness,  adapted 
to  the  maintenance  and  guidance  of  earth-life;  and  that  of  subliminal 
consciousness,  adapted  to  the  maintenance  of  our  larger  spiritual  life 
during  our  confinement  in  the  flesh. 

We  men,  therefore,  clausi  tenebris  et  carcere  cceco,  can  sometimes  widen, 
as  we  must  sometimes  narrow,  our  outlook  on  the  reality  of  things.  In 
mania  or  epilepsy  we  lose  control  even  of  those  highest-level  supraliminal 
centres  on  which  our  rational  earth-life  depends.  But  through  automa- 
tism and  in  trance  and  allied  states  we  draw  into  supraliminal  life  some 
rivulet  from  the  undercurrent  stream.  If  the  subliminal  centres  which 
we  thus  impress  into  our  waking  service  correspond  to  the  middle-level 
only,  they  may  bring  to  1.3  merely  error  and  confusion;  if  they  correspond 


6o  CHAPTER   III 

to  the  highest-level,  they  may  introduce  us  to  previously  unimagined 
truth. 

It  is  to  work  done  by  the  aid  of  some  such  subliminal  uprush,  I  say 
once  more,  that  the  word  "genius"  may  be  most  fitly  applied.  "A  work 
of  genius,"  indeed,  in  common  parlance,  means  a  work  which  satisfies 
two  quite  distinct  requirements.  It  must  involve  something  original, 
spontaneous,  unteachable,  unexpected;  and  it  must  also  in  some  way 
win  for  itself  the  admiration  of  mankind.  Now,  psychologically  speaking, 
the  first  of  these  requirements  corresponds  to  a  real  class,  the  second  to 
a  purely  accidental  one.  What  the  poet  feels  while  he  writes  his  poem 
is  the  psychological  fact  in  his  history;  what  his  friends  feel  while  they 
read  it  may  be  a  psychological  fact  in  their  history,  but  does  not  alter 
the  poet's  creative  effort,  which  was  what  it  was,  whether  any  one  but 
himself  ever  reads  his  poem  or  no. 

And  popular  phraseology  justifies  our  insistence  upon  this  subjective 
side  of  genius.  Thus  it  is  common  to  say  that  "Hartley  Coleridge"  (for 
example)  "was  a  genius,  although  he  never  produced  anything  worth 
speaking  of."  Men  recognise,  that  is  to  say,  from  descriptions  of  Hartley 
Coleridge,  and  from  the  fragments  which  he  has  left,  that  ideas  came 
to  him  with  what  I  have  termed  a  sense  of  subliminal  uprush,  —  with 
an  authentic,  although  not  to  us  an  instructive,  inspiration. 

As  psychologists,  I  maintain,  we  are  bound  to  base  our  definition  of 
genius  upon  some  criterion  of  this  strictly  psychological  kind,  rather  than 
on  the  external  tests  which  as  artists  or  men  of  letters  we  should  employ; 
—  and  which  consider  mainly  the  degree  of  delight  which  any  given  achieve- 
ment can  bestow  upon  other  men.  The  artist  will  speak  of  the  pictorial 
genius  of  Raphael,  but  not  of  Hay  don;  of  the  dramatic  genius  of  Corneille, 
but  not  of  Voltaire.  Yet  Haydon's  Autobiography  —  a  record  of  tragic 
intensity,  and  closing  in  suicide  —  shows  that  the  tame  yet  contorted 
figures  of  his  "Raising  of  Lazarus"  flashed  upon  him  with  an  overmaster- 
ing sense  of  direct  inspiration.  Voltaire,  again,  writes  to  the  president 
Henault  of  his  unreadable  tragedy  Catilina:  "Five  acts  in  a  week!  I 
know  that  this  sounds  ridiculous;  but  if  men  could  guess  what  enthusiasm 
can  do,  —  how  a  poet  in  spite  of  himself,  idolising  his  subject,  devoured 
by  his  genius,  can  accomplish  in  a  few  days  a  task  for  which  without  that 
genius  a  year  would  not  suffice;  —  in  a  word,  si  scirent  donum  Dei,  —  if 
they  knew  the  gift  of  God,  —  their  astonishment  might  be  less  than  it  must 
be  now."  I  do  not  shrink  from  these  extreme  instances.  It  would  be 
absurd,  of  course,  to  place  Haydon's  "Raising  of  Lazarus"  in  the  same 
artistic  class  as  Raphael's  "Madonna  di  San  Sisto."     But  in  the  same 


GENIUS  61 

psychological  class  I  maintain  that  both  works  must  be  placed.  For  each 
painter,  after  his  several  kind,  there  was  the  same  inward  process,  —  the 
same  sense  of  subliminal  uprush;  —  that  extension,  in  other  words,  of 
mental  concentration  which  draws  into  immediate  cognisance  some 
workings  or  elements  of  the  hidden  self. 

Let  me  illustrate  this  conception  by  a  return  to  the  metaphor  of  the 
" conscious  spectrum"  to  which  I  introduced  my  reader  in  the  first  chap- 
ter. I  there  described  our  conscious  spectrum  as  representing  but  a  small 
fraction  of  the  aurai  simplicis  ignis,  or  individual  psychical  ray;  —  just  as 
our  visible  solar  spectrum  represents  but  a  small  fraction  of  the  solar  ray. 
And  even  as  many  waves  of  ether  lie  beyond  the  red  end,  and  many  beyond 
the  violet  end,  of  that  visible  spectrum,  so  have  I  urged  that  much  of  unrecog- 
nised or  subliminal  faculty  lies  beyond  the  red  (or  organic)  end,  and  much 
beyond  the  violet  (or  intellectual)  end  of  my  imaginary  spectrum.  My  main 
task  in  this  book  will  be  to  prolong  the  psychical  spectrum  beyond  either 
limit,  by  collecting  traces  of  latent  faculties,  organic  or  transcendental:  — 
just  as  by  the  bolometer,  by  fluorescence,  by  other  artifices,  physicists  have 
prolonged  the  solar  spectrum  far  beyond  either  limit  of  ordinary  visibility. 

But  at  present,  and  before  entering  on  that  task  of  rendering  manifest 
supernormal  faculty,  I  am  considering  what  we  ought  to  regard  as  ihe 
normal  range  of  faculty  from  which  we  start;  —  what,  in  relation  to  man, 
the  words  norm  and  normal  should  most  reasonably  mean.  \ 

The  word  normal  in  common  speech  is  used  almost  indifferently  to 
imply  either  of  two  things,  which  may  be  very  different  from  each  other 
—  conformity  to  a  standard  and  position  as  an  average  between  extremes. 
Often  indeed  the  average  constitutes  the  standard  —  as  when  a  gas  is 
of  normal  density;  or  is  practically  equivalent  to  the  standard  —  as  when 
a  sovereign  is  of  normal  weight.  But  when  we  come  to  living  organisms 
a  new  factor  is  introduced.  Life  is  change;  each  living  organism  changes; 
each  generation  differs  from  its  predecessor.  To  assign  a  fixed  norm  to  a 
changing  species  is  to  shoot  point-blank  at  a  flying  bird.  The  actual 
average  at  any  given  moment  is  no  ideal  standard;  rather,  the  furthest 
evolutionary  stage  now  reached  is  tending,  given  stability  in  the  environ- 
ment, to  become  the  average  of  the  future.  Human  evolution  is  not  so 
simple  or  so  conspicuous  a  thing  as  the  evolution  of  the  pouter  pigeon. 
But  it  would  be  rash  to  affirm  that  it  is  not  even  swifter  than  any  variation 
among  domesticated  animals.  Not  a  hundred  generations  separate  us 
from  the  dawn  of  history;  —  about  as  many  generations  as  some  microbes 
can  traverse  in  a  month;  —  about  as  many  as  separate  the  modern  Derby- 
winner  from  the  war-horse  of  Gustavus  Adolphus.     Man's  change  has 


62  CHAPTER    III 

been  less  than  the  horse's  change  in  physical  contour,  —  probably  only 
because  man  has  not  been  specially  bred  with  that  view;  —  but  taking 
as  a  test  the  power  of  self-adaptation  to  environment,  man  has  traversed 
in  these  thirty  centuries  a  wider  arc  of  evolution  than  separates  the  race- 
horse from  the  eohippus.  Or  if  we  go  back  further,  and  to  the  primal 
germ,  we  see  that  man's  ancestors  must  have  varied  faster  than  any 
animal's,  since  they  have  travelled  farthest  in  the  same  time.  They  have 
varied  also  in  the  greatest  number  of  directions;  they  have  evoked  in  greatest 
multiplicity  the  unnumbered  faculties  latent  in  the  irritability  of  a  speck 
of  slime.  Of  all  creatures  man  has  gone  furthest  both  in  differentiation 
and  in  integration;  he  has  called  into  activity  the  greatest  number  of  those 
faculties  which  lay  potential  in  the  primal  germ,  —  and  he  has  established 
over  those  faculties  the  strongest  central  control.  The  process  still  con- 
tinues. Civilisation  adds  to  the  complexity  of  his  faculties;  education 
helps  him  to  their  concentration.  It  is  in  the  direction  of  a  still  wider 
range,  a  still  firmer  hold,  that  his  evolution  now  must  lie.  I  shall  main- 
tain that  this  ideal  is  best  attained  by  the  man  of  genius. 

Let  us  consider  the  way  in  which  the  maximum  of  faculty  is  habitually 
manifested;  the  circumstances  in  which  a  man  does  what  he  has  never 
supposed  himself  able  to  do  before.  We  may  take  an  instance  where 
the  faculty  drawn  upon  lies  only  a  little  way  beneath  the  surface.  A  man, 
we  say,  outdoes  himself  in  a  great  emergency.  If  his  house  is  on  fire,  let 
us  suppose,  he  carries  his  children  out  over  the  roof  with  a  strength  and 
agility  which  seem  beyond  his  own.  That  effective  impulse  seems  more 
akin  to  instinct  than  to  calculation.  We  hardly  know  whether  to  call 
the  act  reflex  or  voluntary.  It  is  performed  with  almost  no  conscious 
intervention  of  thought  or  judgment,  but  it  involves  a  new  and  complex 
adaptation  of  voluntary  muscles  such  as  would  need  habitually  the  man's 
most  careful  thought  to  plan  and  execute.  From  the  point  of  view  here 
taken  the  action  will  appear  to  have  been  neither  reflex  nor  voluntary  in 
the  ordinary  sense,  but  subliminal;  —  a  subliminal  uprush,  an  emergence 
of  hidden  faculty,  —  of  nerve  co-ordinations  potential  in  his  organism 
but  till  now  unused,  —  which  takes  command  of  the  man  and  guides 
his  action  at  the  moment  when  his  being  is  deeply  stirred. 

This  stock  instance  of  a  man's  possible  behaviour  in  moments  of  great 
physical  risk  does  but  illustrate  in  a  gross  and  obvious  manner,  and  in 
the  motor  region,  a  phenomenon  which,  as  I  hold,  is  constantly  occurring 
on  a  smaller  scale  in  the  inner  life  of  most  of  us.  We  identify  ourselves 
for  the  most  part  with  a  stream  of  voluntary,  fully  conscious  ideas,  — 
cerebral  movements  connected  and  purposive  as  the  movement  of  the 


GENIUS  63 

hand  which  records  them.  Meantime  we  are  aware  also  of  a  substratum 
of  fragmentary  automatic,  liminal  ideas,  of  which  we  take  small  account. 
These  are  bubbles  that  break  on  the  surface;  but  every  now  and  then 
there  is  a  stir  among  them.  There  is  a  rush  upwards  as  of  a  subaqueous 
spring;  an  inspiration  flashes  into  the  mind  for  which  our  conscious  effort 
has  not  prepared  us.  This  so-called  inspiration  may  in  itself  be  trivial  or 
worthless;  but  it  is  the  initial  stage  of  a  phenomenon  to  which,  when  certain 
rare  attributes  are  also  present,  the  name  of  genius  will  be  naturally  given. 

I  am  urging,  then,  that  where  life  is  concerned,  and  where,  therefore, 
change  is  normality,  we  ought  to  place  our  norm  somewhat  ahead  of  the 
average  man,  though  on  the  evolutionary  track  which  our  race  is  pursuing. 
I  have  suggested  that  that  evolutionary  track  is  at  present  leading  him  in 
the  direction  of  greater  complexity  in  the  perceptions  which  he  forms  of 
things  without,  and  of  greater  concentration  in  his  own  will  and  thought, 
—  in  that  response  to  perceptions  which  he  makes  from  within.  Lastly 
I  have  argued  that  men  of  genius,  whose  perceptions  are  presumably 
more  vivid  and  complex  than  those  of  average  men,  are  also  the  men  who 
carry  the  power  of  concentration  furthest;  —  reaching  downwards,  by 
some  self-suggestion  which  they  no  more  than  we  can  explain,  to  treasures 
of  latent  faculty  in  the  hidden  Self. 

I  am  not  indeed  here  assuming  that  the  faculty  which  is  at  the  service 
of  the  man  of  genius  is  of  a  kind  different  from  that  of  common  men,  in 
such  a  sense  that  it  would  need  to  be  represented  by  a  prolongation  of 
either  end  of  the  conscious  spectrum.  Rather  it  will  be  represented  by 
such  a  brightening  of  the  familiar  spectrum  as  may  follow  upon  an  intensi- 
fication of  the  central  light.  For  the  spectrum  of  man's  conscious 
faculty,  like  the  solar  spectrum,  is  not  continuous  but  banded.  There 
are  groups  of  the  dark  lines  of  obstruction  and  incapacity,  and  even  in 
the  best  of  us  a  dim  unequal  glow. 

It  will,  then,  be  the  special  characteristic  of  genius  that  its  uprushes 
of  subliminal  faculty  will  make  the  bright  parts  of  the  habitual  spectrum 
more  brilliant,  will  kindle  the  dim  absorption-bands  to  fuller  brightness, 
and  will  even  raise  quite  dark  lines  into  an  occasional  glimmer. 

But,  if,  as  I  believe,  we  can  best  give  to  the  idea  of  genius  some  useful 
distinctness  by  regarding  it  in  some  such  way  as  this,  we  shall  find  also 
that  genius  will  fall  into  line  with  many  other  sensory  and  motor 
automatisms  to  which  the  word  could  not  naturally  be  applied.  Genius 
represents  a  narrow  selection  among  a  great  many  cognate  phenomena;  — 
among  a  great  many  uprushes  or  emergences  of  subliminal  faculty  both 
within  and  beyond  the  limits  of  the  ordinary  conscious  spectrum. 


64  CHAPTER    III 

It  will  be  more  convenient  to  study  all  these  together,  under  the  heading 
of  sensory  or  of  motor  automatism.  It  will  then  be  seen  that  there  is 
no  kind  of  perception  which  may  not  emerge  from  beneath  the  threshold 
in  an  indefinitely  heightened  form,  with  just  that  convincing  suddenness 
of  impression  which  is  described  by  men  of  genius  as  characteristic  of 
their  highest  flights.  Even  with  so  simple  a  range  of  sensation  as  that 
which  records  the  lapse  of  time  there  are  subliminal  uprushes  of  this  type, 
and  we  shall  see  that  a  man  may  have  a  sudden  and  accurate  inspiration 
of  what  o'clock  it  is,  in  just  the  same  way  as  Virgil  might  have  an 
inspiration  of  the  second  half  of  a  difficult  hexameter. 

For  the  purpose  of  present  illustration  of  the  workings  of  genius  it 
seems  well  to  choose  a  kind  of  ability  which  is  quite  indisputable,  and 
which  also  admits  of  some  degree  of  quantitative  measurement.  I  would 
choose  the  higher  mathematical  processes,  were  data  available;  and  I 
may  say  in  passing  how  grateful  I  should  be  to  receive  from  mathemati- 
cians any  account  of  the  mental  processes  of  which  they  are  conscious 
during  the  attainment  of  their  highest  results.  Meantime  there  is  a  lower 
class  of  mathematical  gift  which  by  its  very  specialisation  and  isolation 
seems  likely  to  throw  light  on  our  present  inquiry. 

During  the  course  of  the  present  century,  —  and  alas !  the  scientific 
observation  of  unusual  specimens  of  humanity  hardly  runs  back  further, 
or  so  far,  —  the  public  of  great  cities  has  been  from  time  to  time  surprised 
and  diverted  by  some  so-called  "calculating  boy,"  or  "arithmetical  prod- 
igy," generally  of  tender  years,  and  capable  of  performing  "in  his  head," 
and  almost  instantaneously,  problems  for  which  ordinary  workers  would 
require  pencil  and  paper  and  a  much  longer  time.  In  some  few  cases, 
indeed,  the  ordinary  student  would  have  no  means  whatever  of  solving 
the  problem  which  the  calculating  boy  unriddled  with  ease  and  exactness. 

The  especial  advantage  of  the  study  of  arithmetical  prodigies  is  that 
in  their  case  the  subjective  impression  coincides  closely  with  the  objective 
result.  The  subliminal  computator  feels  that  the  sum  is  right,  and  it  is 
right.  Forms  of  real  or  supposed  genius  which  are  more  interesting  are 
apt  to  be  less  undeniable. 

An  American  and  a  French  psychologist1  have  collected  such  hints 

1  Professor  Scripture  in  the  American  Journal  of  Psychology,  vol.  iv.,  No.  i,  April 
1891;  Professor  Binet  in  the  Revue  Philosophique,  1895.  Professor  Binet's  article 
deals  largely  with  Jacques  Inaudi,  the  most  recent  prodigy,  who  appears  to  differ 
from  the  rest  in  that  his  gift  is  auditile  rather  than  visual.  His  gift  was  first  observed 
in  childhood.  His  general  intelligence  is  below  the  average.  Another  recent  prodigy, 
Diamanti,  seems,  on  the  other  hand,  to  be  in  other  ways  quick-witted. 


GENIUS  65 

and  explanations  as  these  prodigies  have  given  of  their  methods  of  work- 
ing; methods  which  one  might  naturally  hope  to  find  useful  in  ordinary 
education.  The  result,  however,  has  been  very  meagre,  and  the  records 
left  to  us,  imperfect  as  they  are,  are  enough  to  show  that  the  main  and 
primary  achievement  has  in  fact  been  subliminal,  while  conscious  or  supra- 
liminal effort  has  sometimes  been  wholly  absent,  sometimes  has  super- 
vened only  after  the  gift  has  been  so  long  exercised  that  the  accesses  between 
different  strata  have  become  easy  by  frequent  traversing.  The  prodigy 
grown  to  manhood,  who  now  recognises  the  arithmetical  artifices  which 
he  used  unconsciously  as  a  boy,  resembles  the  hypnotic  subject  trained 
by  suggestion  to  remember  in  waking  hours  the  events  of  the  trance. 

In  almost  every  point,  indeed,  where  comparison  is  possible,  we  shall 
find  this  computative  gift  resembling  other  manifestations  of  subliminal 
faculty,  —  such  as  the  power  of  seeing  hallucinatory  figures,  —  rather 
than  the  results  of  steady  supraliminal  effort,  such  as  the  power  of  logical 
analysis.  In  the  first  place,  this  faculty,  in  spite  of  its  obvious  connection 
with  general  mathematical  grasp  and  insight,  is  found  almost  at  random, 
—  among  non-mathematical  and  even  quite  stupid  persons,  as  well  as 
among  mathematicians  of  mark.  In  the  second  place,  it  shows  itself 
mostly  in  early  childhood,  and  tends  to  disappear  in  later  life;  —  in  this 
resembling  visualising  power  in  general,  and  the  power  of  seeing  halluci- 
natory figures  in  particular;  which  powers,  as  both  Mr.  Galton's  inquiries 
and  our  own  tend  to  show,  are  habitually  stronger  in  childhood  and  youth 
than  in  later  years.  Again,  it  is  noticeable  that  when  the  power  disap- 
pears early  in  life  it  is  apt  to  leave  behind  it  no  memory  whatever  of  the 
processes  involved.  And  even  when,  by  long  persistence  in  a  reflective 
mind,  the  power  has  become,  so  to  say,  adopted  into  the  supraliminal 
consciousness,  there  nevertheless  may  still  be  flashes  of  pure  "inspira- 
tion," when  the  answer  "comes  into  the  mind"  with  absolutely  no  per- 
ception of  intermediate  steps. 

I  subjoin  a  table,  compiled  by  the  help  of  Dr.  Scripture's  collection, 
which  will  broadly  illustrate  the  main  points  above  mentioned.  Some 
more  detailed  remarks  may  then  follow. 


66  CHAPTER    III 

Table  of  Principal  Arithmetical  Prodigies. 


Name  (alphabetically). 

Age  when  gift 
was  observed. 

Duration  of  gift. 

Intelligence. 

Ampere       .... 

Bidder 

Buxton        .... 
Colburn      .... 
Dase  [or  Dahse] . 

Fuller 

Gauss 

Mangiamele 

Mondeux    .... 

Prolongeau. 

Safford        .... 

"Mr.VanR.,ofUtica"  . 

Whately      .... 

4 

IO 

? 

6 
boyhood 
boyhood 

3 

IO 
IO 

6 
6 
6 
3 

? 
through  life 

? 
few  years 
through  life 

? 

? 
few  years 
few  years 
few  years 
few  years 
few  years 
few  years 

eminent 

good 

low 

average 

very  low 

low 

eminent 

average  ? 

low 

low 

good 

average  ? 

good 

Now  among  these  thirteen  names  we  have  two  men  of  transcendent, 
and  three  of  high  ability.    What  accounts  have  they  given  us  of  their 

methods  ? 

Of  the  gift  of  Gauss  and  Ampere  we  know  nothing  except  a  few  striking 
anecdotes.  After  manifesting  itself  at  an  age  when  there  is  usually  no 
continuous  supraliminal  mental  effort  worth  speaking  of,  it  appears  to 
have  been  soon  merged  in  the  general  blaze  of  their  genius.  With  Bidder 
the  gift  persisted  through  life,  but  grew  weaker  as  he  grew  older.  His 
paper  in  Vol.  XV.  of  the  Proceedings  of  the  Institute  of  Civil  Engineers, 
while  furnishing  a  number  of  practical  hints  to  the  calculator,  indicates 
also  a  singular  readiness  of  communication  between  different  mental 
strata.  "Whenever,"  he  says  (p.  255)  "I  feel  called  upon  to  make  use 
of  the  stores  of  my  mind,  they  seem  to  rise  with  the  rapidity  of  lightning." 
And  in  Vol.  CHI.  of  the  same  Proceedings,  Mr.  W.  Pole,  F.R.S.,  in  de- 
scribing how  Mr.  Bidder  could  determine  mentally  the  logarithm  of  any 
number  to  7  or  8  places,  says  (p.  252):  "He  had  an  almost  miraculous 
power  of  seeing,  as  it  were,  intuitively  what  factors  would  divide  any 
large  number,  not  a  prime.  Thus,  if  he  were  given  the  number  17,861, 
he  would  instantly  remark  it  was  337X53-  •  •  •  He  could  not,  he  said, 
explain  how  he  did  this;  it  seemed  a  natural  instinct  to  him." 

Passing  on  to  the  two  other  men  of  high  ability  known  to  have  pos- 
sessed this  gift,  Professor  Safford  and  Archbishop  Whately,  we  are  struck 
with  the  evanescence  of  the  power  after  early  youth,  —  or  even  before 


GENIUS  67 

the  end  of  childhood.    I  quote  from  Dr.  Scripture  Archbishop  Whately's 
account  of  his  powers. 

There  was  certainly  something  peculiar  in  my  calculating  faculty. 
It  began  to  show  itself  at  between  five  and  six,  and  lasted  about  three 
years.  ...  I  soon  got  to  do  the  most  difficult  sums,  always  in  my  head, 
for  I  knew  nothing  of  figures  beyond  numeration.  I  did  these  sums 
much  quicker  than  any  one  could  upon  paper,  and  I  never  remember 
committing  the  smallest  error.  When  I  went  to  school,  at  which  time 
the  passion  wore  off,  I  was  a  perfect  dunce  at  ciphering,  and  have  continued 
so  ever  since. 

Still  more  remarkable,  perhaps,  was  Professor  Safford's  loss  of  power. 
Professor  Safford's  whole  bent  was  mathematical;  his  boyish  gift  of  cal- 
culation raised  him  into  notice;  and  he  is  now  a  Professor  of  Astronomy. 
He  had  therefore  every  motive  and  every  opportunity  to  retain  the  gift,  if 
thought  and  practice  could  have  retained  it.  But  whereas  at  ten  years 
old  he  worked  correctly  in  his  head,  in  one  minute,  a  multiplication  sum 
whose  answer  consisted  of  36  figures,  he  is  now,  I  believe,  neither  more 
nor  less  capable  of  such  calculation  than  his  neighbours. 

Similar  was  the  fate  of  a  personage  who  never  rises  above  initials,  and 
of  whose  general  capacity  we  know  nothing. 

"Mr.  Van  R.,  of  Utica,"  says  Dr.  Scripture  on  the  authority  of  Gall, 
"at  the  age  of  six  years  distinguished  himself  by  a  singular  faculty  for 
calculating  in  his  head.  At  eight  he  entirely  lost  this  faculty,  and  after 
that  time  he  could  calculate  neither  better  nor  faster  than  any  other  person. 
He  did  not  retain  the  slightest  idea  of  the  manner  in  which  he  performed 
his  calculations  in  childhood.11 

Turning  now  to  the  stupid  or  uneducated  prodigies,  Dase  alone  seems 
to  have  retained  his  power  through  life.  Colburn  and  Mondeux,  and 
apparently  Prolongeau  and  Mangiamele,  lost  their  gift  after  childhood. 

On  the  whole  the  ignorant  prodigies  seldom  appear  to  have  been  con- 
scious of  any  continuous  logical  process,  while  in  some  cases  the  separa- 
tion of  the  supraliminal  and  subliminal  trains  of  thought  must  have  been 
very  complete.  "Buxton  would  talk  freely  whilst  doing  his  questions, 
that  being  no  molestation  or  hindrance  to  him."1  Fixity  and  clearness 
of  inward  visualisation  seems  to  have  been  the  leading  necessity  in  all 
these  achievements;  and  it  apparently  mattered  little  whether  the  mental 
blackboard  (so  to  say)  on  which  the  steps  of  the  calculation  were  recorded 
were  or  were  not  visible  to  the  mind's  eye  of  the  supraliminal  self. 

I  have  been  speaking  only  of  visualisation;  but  it  would  be  interesting 

1  Scripture,  op.  tit.,  p.  54. 


68  CHAPTER   III 

if  we  could  discover  how  much  actual  mathematical  insight  or  inventive- 
ness can  be  subliminally  exercised.  Here,  however,  our  materials  are 
very  imperfect.  From  Gauss  and  Ampere  we  have,  so  far  as  I  know,  no 
record.  At  the  other  end  of  the  scale,  we  know  that  Dase  (perhaps  the 
most  successful  of  all  these  prodigies)  was  singularly  devoid  of  mathe- 
matical grasp.  "On  one  occasion  Petersen  tried  in  vain  for  six  weeks 
to  get  the  first  elements  of  mathematics  into  his  head."  "He  could  not 
be  made  to  have  the  least  idea  of  a  proposition  in  Euclid.  Of  any  lan- 
guage but  his  own  he  could  never  master  a  word."  Yet  Dase  received 
a  grant  from  the  Academy  of  Sciences  at  Hamburg,  on  the  recommenda- 
tion of  Gauss,  for  mathematical  work;  and  actually  in  twelve  years  made 
tables  of  factors  and  prime  numbers  for  the  seventh  and  nearly  the  whole 
of  the  eighth  million,  —  a  task  which  probably  few  men  could  have 
accomplished,  without  mechanical  aid,  in  an  ordinary  lifetime.  He  may 
thus  be  ranked  as  the  only  man  who  has  ever  done  valuable  service  to 
Mathematics  without  being  able  to  cross  the  Ass's  Bridge. 

No  support  is  given  by  what  we  know  of  this  group  to  the  theory  which 
regards  subliminal  mentation  as  necessarily  a  sign  of  some  morbid  dis- 
sociation of  physical  elements.  Is  there,  on  the  other  hand,  anything 
to  confirm  a  suggestion  which  will  occur  in  some  similar  cases,  namely, 
that,  —  inasmuch  as  the  addition  of  subliminal  to  supraliminal  mentation 
may  often  be  a  completion  and  integration  rather  than  a  fractionation 
or  disintegration  of  the  total  individuality,  —  we  are  likely  sometimes  to 
find  traces  of  a  more  than  common  activity  of  the  right  or  less  used  cerebral 
hemisphere  ?  Finding  no  mention  of  ambidexterity  in  the  meagre  notices 
which  have  come  down  to  us  of  the  greater  "prodigies,"  I  begged  the 
late  Mr.  Bidder,  Q.C.,  and  Mr.  Blyth,  of  Edinburgh  (the  well-known 
civil  engineer  and  perhaps  the  best  living  English  representative  of  what 
we  may  call  the  calculating  diathesis),  to  tell  me  whether  their  left  hands 
possessed  more  than  usual  power.  And  I  find  that  in  these  —  the  only 
two  cases  in  which  I  have  been  able  to  make  inquiry — there  is  some- 
what more  of  dextro-cerebral  capacity  than  in  the  mass  of  mankind. 

We  may  now  pass  on  to  review  some  further  instances  of  subliminal 
co-operation  with  conscious  thought;  —  first  looking  about  us  for  any 
cases  comparable  in  definiteness  with  the  preceding;  and  then  extending 
our  view  over  the  wider  and  vaguer  realm  of  creative  and  artistic  work. 

But  before  we  proceed  to  the  highly-specialised  senses  of  hearing  and 
sight,  we  must  note  the  fact  that  there  are  cases  of  subliminal  intensifica- 
tion of  those  perceptions  of  a  less  specialised  kind  which  underlie  our 
more  elaborate  modes  of  cognising  the  world  around  us.    The  sense  of 


GENIUS  69 

the  efflux  oj  time,  and  the  sense  of  weight,  or  of  muscular  resistance,  are 
amongst  the  profoundest  elements  in  our  organic  being.  And  the  sense 
of  time  is  indicated  in  several  ways  as  a  largely  subliminal  faculty.  There 
is  much  evidence  to  show  that  it  is  often  more  exact  in  men  sleeping  than 
in  men  awake,  and  in  men  hypnotised  than  in  men  sleeping.  The  records 
of  spontaneous  somnambulism  are  full  of  predictions  made  by  the  subject 
as  to  his  own  case,  and  accomplished,  presumably  by  self-suggestion, 
but  without  help  from  clocks,  at  the  precise  minute  foretold.  Or  this 
hidden  knowledge  may  take  shape  in  the  imagery  of  dream,  as  in  a  case 
published  by  Professor  Royce,  of  Harvard,1  where  his  correspondent 
describes  "a  dream  in  which  I  saw  an  enormous  flaming  clock-dial  with 
the  hands  standing  at  2.20.  Awaking  immediately,  I  struck  a  match, 
and  upon  looking  at  my  watch  found  it  was  a  few  seconds  past  2.20." 

Similarly  we  find  cases  where  the  uprush  of  subliminal  faculty  is  con- 
cerned with  the  deep  organic  sensation  of  muscular  resistance.  We  need 
not  postulate  any  direct  or  supernormal  knowledge,  —  but  merely  a  sub- 
liminal calculation,  such  as  we  see  in  the  case  of  "arithmetical  prodigies,' ' 
expressing  itself  supraliminally,  sometimes  in  a  phantasmal  picture,  some- 
times as  a  mere  "  conviction,"  without  sensory  clothing.2 

Passing  on  here  to  subliminal  products  of  visual  type,  I  am  glad  to  be 
able  to  quote  the  following  passage  which  seems  to  me  to  give  in  germ 
the  very  theory  for  which  I  am  now  contending  on  the  authority  of  one 
of  the  most  lucid  thinkers  of  the  last  generation. 

The  passage  occurs  in  an  article  by  Sir  John  Herschel  on  "Sensorial 
Vision,"  in  his  Familiar  Lectures  on  Scientific  Subjects,  1816.  Sir  John 
describes  some  experiences  of  his  own,  "which  consist  in  the  involuntary 
production  of  visual  impressions,  into  which  geometrical  regularity  of 
form  enters  as  the  leading  character,  and  that,  under  circumstances  which 
altogether  preclude  any  explanation  drawn  from  a  possible  regularity 
of  structure  in  the  retina  or  the  optic  nerve."3  Twice  these  patterns  ap- 
peared in  waking  daylight  hours,  —  with  no  illness  or  discomfort  at  the 
time  or  afterwards.  More  frequently  they  appeared  in  darkness;  but 
still  while  Sir  John  was  fully  awake.  They  appeared  also  twice  when 
he  was  placed  under  chloroform;  "and  I  should  observe  that  I  never  lost 

1  Proceedings  of  American  S.P.R.,  vol.  i.  No.  4,  p.  360. 

2  See  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  viii.  p.  337  [§311]. 

3  On  this  point  see  Professor  James's  Principles  of  Psychology,  vol.  ii.  p.  84,  note. 
Goethe's  well-known  phantasmal  flower  was  clearly  no  mere  representation  of  retinal 
structure.  A  near  analogy  to  these  patterns  lies  in  the  so-called  "spirit-drawings," 
or  automatic  arabesques,  discussed  elsewhere  in  this  chapter. 


7o  CHAPTER    III 

my  consciousness  of  being  awake  and  in  full  possession  of  my  mind,  though 
quite  insensible  to  what  was  going  on.  .  .  .  Now  the  question  at  once 
presents  itself  —  What  are  these  Geometrical  Spectres?  and  how,  and 
in  what  department  of  the  bodily  or  mental  economy  do  they  originate? 
They  are  evidently  not  dreams.  The  mind  is  not  dormant,  but  active 
and  conscious  of  the  direction  of  its  thoughts;  while  these  things  obtrude 
themselves  on  notice,  and  by  calling  attention  to  them,  direct  the  train 
of  thought  into  a  channel  it  would  not  have  taken  of  itself.  ...  If  it  be 
true  that  the  conception  of  a  regular  geometrical  pattern  implies  the  exer- 
cise of  thought  and  intelligence,  it  would  almost  seem  that  in  such  cases 
as  those  above  adduced  we  have  evidence  of  a  thought,  an  intelligence, 
working  within  our  own  organisation  distinct  from  that  of  our  own  per- 
sonality." And  Sir  John  further  suggests  that  these  complex  figures, 
entering  the  mind  in  this  apparently  arbitrary  fashion,  throw  light  upon 
"the  suggestive  principle"  to  which  "we  must  look  for  much  that  is  de- 
terminant and  decisive  of  our  volition  when  carried  into  action,"  "It 
strikes  me  as  not  by  any  means  devoid  of  interest  to  contemplate  cases 
where,  in  a  matter  so  entirely  abstract,  so  completely  devoid  of  any  moral 
or  emotional  bearing,  as  the  production  of  a  geometrical  figure,  we,  as 
it  were,  seize  upon  that  principle  in  the  very  act,  and  in  the  performance 
of  its  office." 

From  my  point  of  view,  of  course,  I  can  but  admire  the  acumen  which 
enabled  this  great  thinker  to  pierce  to  the  root  of  the  matter  by  the  aid 
of  so  few  observations.  He  does  not  seem  to  have  perceived  the  connection 
between  these  "schematic  phantasms,"  to  borrow  a  phrase  from  Professor 
Ladd,1  and  the  hallucinatory  figures  of  men  or  animals  seen  in  health 
or  in  disease.  But  even  from  his  scanty  data  his  inference  seems  to  me 
irresistible;  —  "we  have  evidence  of  a  thought,  an  intelligence,  working 
within  our  own  organisation,  distinct  from  that  of  our  own  personality." 
I  shall  venture  to  claim  him  as  the  first  originator  of  the  theory  to  which 
the  far  fuller  evidence  now  accessible  had  independently  led  myself. 

Cases  observed  as  definitely  as  those  just  quoted  are  few  in  number; 
and  I  must  pass  on  into  a  much  trodden  —  even  a  confusedly  trampled 
—  field;  —  the  records,  namely,  left  by  eminent  men  as  to  the  element 
of  subconscious  mentation,  which  was  involved  in  their  best  work.  Most 
of  these  stories  have  been  again  and  again  repeated;  —  and  they  have 
been  collected  on  a  large  scale  in  a  celebrated  work,  —  to  me  especially 
distasteful,  as  containing  what  seems  to  me  the  loose  and  extravagant 
parody  of  important  truth.    It  is  not  my  business  here  to  criticise  Dr. 

1  See  Professor  Ladd's  paper  on  this  subject  in  Mind,  April  1892. 


GENIUS  71 

Von  Hartmann's  Philosophy  0}  the  Unconscious  in  detail;  but  I  prefer 
to  direct  my  readers'  attention  to  a  much  more  modest  volume,  in  which 
a  young  physician  has  put  together  the  results  of  a  direct  inquiry  addressed 
to  some  Frenchmen  of  distinction  as  to  their  methods  especially  of  imagi- 
native work.1  I  quote  a  few  of  the  replies  addressed  to  him,  beginning 
with  some  words  from  M.  Sully  Prudhomme,  —  at  once  psychologist 
and  poet,  —  who  is  here  speaking  of  the  subconscious  clarification  of  a 
chain  of  abstract  reasoning.  "I  have  sometimes  suddenly  understood 
a  geometrical  demonstration  made  to  me  a  year  previously  without  having 
in  any  way  directed  thereto  my  attention  or  will.  It  seemed  that  the  mere 
spontaneous  ripening  of  the  conceptions  which  the  lectures  had  implanted 
in  my  brain  had  brought  about  within  me  this  novel  grasp  of  the  proof. " 

With  this  we  may  compare  a  statement  of  Arago's  —  "Instead  of 
obstinately  endeavouring  to  understand  a  proposition  at  once,  I  would 
admit  its  truth  provisionally;  —  and  next  day  I  would  be  astonished  at 
understanding  thoroughly  that  which  seemed  all  dark  before.,, 

Condillac  similarly  speaks  of  finding  an  incomplete  piece  of  work 
finished  next  day  in  his  head. 

Somewhat  similarly,  though  in  another  field,  M.  Rette,  a  poet,  tells 
Dr.  Chabaneix  that  he  falls  asleep  in  the  middle  of  an  unfinished  stanza, 
and  when  thinking  of  it  again  in  the  morning  finds  it  completed.  And 
M.  Vincent  d'Indy,  a  musical  composer,  says  that  he  often  has  on  waking 
a  fugitive  glimpse  of  a  musical  effect  which  (like  the  memory  of  a  dream) 
needs  a  strong  immediate  concentration  of  mind  to  keep  it  from  vanishing. 

De  Musset  writes,  "On  ne  travaille  pas,  on  ecoute,  c'est  comme  un 
inconnu  qui  vous  parle  a  l'oreille." 

Lamartine  says,  "Ce  n'est  pas  moi  qui  pense;  ce  sont  mes  idees  qui 
pensent  pour  moi." 

Remy  de  Gourmont:  "My  conceptions  rise  into  the  field  of  conscious- 
ness like  a  flash  of  lightning  or  like  the  flight  of  a  bird." 

M.  S.  writes:  "In  writing  these  dramas  I  seemed  to  be  a  spectator  at 
the  play;  I  gazed  at  what  was  passing  on  the  scene  in  an  eager,  wondering 
expectation  of  what  was  to  follow.  And  yet  I  felt  that  all  this  came  from 
the  depth  of  my  own  being." 

Saint-Saens  had  only  to  listen,  as  Socrates  to  his  Daemon;  and  M. 
Ribot,  summing  up  a  number  of  similar  cases,  says:  "It  is  the  uncon- 
scious which  produces  what  is  vulgarly  called  inspiration.  This  condition 
is  a  positive  fact,  accompanied  with  physical  and  psychical  characteristics 

1  "Le  Subconscient  chez  les  Artistes,  les  Savantes,  et  les  Ecrivains,"  par  le  Dr. 
Paul  Chabaneix,  Paris,  1897. 


72  CHAPTER   III 

peculiar  to  itself.  Above  all,  it  is  impersonal  and  involuntary,  it  acts  like 
an  instinct,  when  and  how  it  chooses;  it  may  be  wooed,  but  cannot  be 
compelled.  Neither  reflection  nor  will  can  supply  its  place  in  original 
creation.  .  .  .  The  bizarre  habits  of  artists  when  composing  tend  to  create 
a  special  physiological  condition,  —  to  augment  the  cerebral  circulation 
in  order  to  provoke  or  to  maintain  the  unconscious  activity." 

In  what  precise  way  the  cerebral  circulation  is  altered  we  can  hardly 
at  present  hope  to  know.  Meantime  a  few  psychological  remarks  fall 
more  easily  within  our  reach. 

In  the  first  place,  we  note  that  a  very  brief  and  shallow  submergence 
beneath  the  conscious  level  is  enough  to  infuse  fresh  vigour  into  supra- 
liminal trains  of  thought.  Ideas  left  to  mature  unnoticed  for  a  few  days, 
or  for  a  single  night,  seem  to  pass  but  a  very  little  way  beneath  the  threshold. 
They  represent,  one  may  say,  the  first  stage  of  a  process  which,  although 
often  inconspicuous,  is  not  likely  to  be  discontinuous,  —  the  sustenance, 
namely,  of  the  supraliminal  life  by  impulse  or  guidance  from  below. 

In  the  second  place,  we  see  in  some  of  these  cases  of  deep  and  fruitful 
abstraction  a  slight  approach  to  duplication  of  personality.  John  Stuart 
Mill,  intent  on  his  Principles  of  Logic,  as  he  threaded  the  crowds  of  Leaden- 
hall  Street,  recalls  certain  morbid  cases  of  hysterical  distraction;  —  only 
that  with  Mill  the  process  was  an  integrative  one  and  not  a  dissolutive 
one  —  a  gain  and  not  a  loss  of  power  over  the  organism. 

And  thirdly,  in  some  of  these  instances  we  see  the  man  of  genius  achiev- 
ing spontaneously,  and  unawares,  much  the  same  result  as  that  which 
is  achieved  for  the  hypnotic  subject  by  deliberate  artifice.  For  he  is  in 
fact  co-ordinating  the  waking  and  the  sleeping  phases  of  his  existence. 
He  is  carrying  into  sleep  the  knowledge  and  the  purpose  of  waking  hours; 
—  and  he  is  carrying  back  into  waking  hours  again  the  benefit  of  those 
profound  assimilations  which  are  the  privilege  of  sleep.  Hypnotic  sug- 
gestion aims  at  co-operations  of  just  this  kind  between  the  waking  state 
in  which  the  suggestion,  say,  of  some  functional  change,  is  planned  and 
the  sleeping  state  in  which  that  change  is  carried  out,  —  with  benefit 
persisting  anew  into  waking  life.  The  hypnotic  trance,  which  is  a  de- 
veloped sleep,  thus  accomplishes  for  the  ordinary  man  what  ordinary 
sleep  accomplishes  for  the  man  of  genius. 

The  coming  chapters  on  Sleep  and  Hypnotism  will  illustrate  this  point 
more  fully.  But  I  may  here  anticipate  my  discussion  of  dreams  by  quoting 
one  instance  where  dreams,  self-suggested  by  waking  will,  formed,  as 
one  may  say,  an  integral  element  in  distinguished  genius. 

The  late  Robert  Louis  Stevenson,  being  in  many  ways  a  typical  man 


GENIUS  73 

of  genius,  was  in  no  way  more  markedly  gifted  with  that  integrating  fac- 
ulty —  that  increased  power  over  all  strata  of  the  personality  —  which 
I  have  ascribed  to  genius,  than  in  his  relation  to  his  dreams  (see  "A  Chap- 
ter on  Dreams "  in  his  volume  Across  the  Plains).  Seldom  has  the  essential 
analogy  between  dreams  and  inspiration  been  exhibited  in  such  a  striking 
way.  His  dreams  had  always  (he  tells  us)  been  of  great  vividness,  and 
often  of  markedly  recurrent  type.  But  the  point  of  interest  is  that,  when 
he  began  to  write  stories  for  publication,  the  "little  people  who  managed 
man's  internal  theatre"  understood  the  change  as  well  as  he. 

When  he  lay  down  to  prepare  himself  for  sleep,  he  no  longer  sought 
amusement,  but  printable  and  profitable  tales;  and  after  he  had  dozed 
off  in  his  box-seat,  his  little  people  continued  their  evolutions  with  the 
same  mercantile  designs.  .  .  .  For  the  most  part,  whether  awake  or 
asleep,  he  is  simply  occupied  —  he  or  his  little  people  —  in  consciously 
making  stories  for  the  market.  .  .  . 

The  more  I  think  of  it,  the  more  I  am  moved  to  press  upon  the  world 
my  question:  "Who  are  the  Little  People?"  They  are  near  connections 
of  the  dreamer's,  beyond  doubt;  they  share  in  his  financial  worries  and 
have  an  eye  to  the  bank  book;  they  share  plainly  in  his  training;  .  .  . 
they  have  plainly  learned  like  him  to  build  the  scheme  of  a  considerate 
story  and  to  arrange  emotion  in  progressive  order;  only  I  think  they  have 
more  talent;  and  one  thing  is  beyond  doubt,  —  they  can  tell  him  a  story 
piece  by  piece,  like  a  serial,  and  keep  him  all  the  while  in  ignorance  of 
where  they  aim.  .  .  . 

That  part  [of  my  work]  which  is  done  while  I  am  sleeping  is  the 
Brownies'  part  beyond  contention;  but  that  which  is  done  when  I  am 
up  and  about  is  by  no  means  necessarily  mine,  since  all  goes  to  show  the 
Brownies  have  a  hand  in  it  even  then. 

Slight  and  imperfect  as  the  above  statistics  and  observations  admittedly 
are,  they  seem  to  me  to  point  in  a  more  useful  direction  than  do  some  of 
the  facts  collected  by  that  modern  group  of  anthropologists  who  hold  that 
genius  is  in  itself  a  kind  of  nervous  malady,  a  disturbance  of  mental 
balance,  akin  to  criminality  or  even  to  madness. 

It  is  certainly  not  true,  as  I  hold,  either  that  the  human  race  in  general 
is  nervously  degenerating,  or  that  nervous  degeneration  tends  to  a  maxi- 
mum in  its  most  eminent  members.  But  it  can  be  plausibly  maintained 
that  the  proportion  of  nervous  to  other  disorders  tends  to  increase.  And 
it  is  certain  that  not  nervous  degeneration  but  nervous  change  or  develop- 
ment is  now  proceeding  among  civilised  peoples  more  rapidly  than  ever 
before,  and  that  this  self-adaptation  to  wider  environments  must  inevitably 
be  accompanied  in  the  more  marked  cases  by  something  of  nervous  in- 
stability.    And  it  is  true  also  that  from  one  point  of  view  these  changes 


74  CHAPTER    III 

might  form  matter  for  regret;  and  that  in  order  to  discern  what  I  take 
to  be  their  true  meaning  we  have  to  regard  the  problem  of  human  evolution 
from  a  somewhat  unfamiliar  standpoint. 

The  nervous  system  is  probably  tending  in  each  generation  to  become 
more  complex  and  more  delicately  ramified.  As  is  usual  when  any  part 
of  an  organism  is  undergoing  rapid  evolutive  changes,  this  nervous  progress 
is  accompanied  with  some  instability.  Those  individuals  in  whom  the 
hereditary  or  the  acquired  change  is  the  most  rapid  are  likely  also  to 
suffer  most  from  a  perturbation  which  masks  evolution  —  an  occasional 
appearance  of  what  may  be  termed  "nervous  sports"  of  a  useless  or  even 
injurious  type.  Such  are  the  fancies  and  fanaticisms,  the  bizarre  likes 
and  dislikes,  the  excessive  or  aberrant  sensibilities,  which  have  been  ob- 
served in  some  of  the  eminent  men  whom  Lombroso  discusses  in  his  book 
on  the  Man  of  Genius.  Their  truest  analogue,  as  we  shall  presently  see 
more  fully,  lies  in  the  oddities  or  morbidities  of  sentiment  or  sensation 
which  so  often  accompany  the  development  of  the  human  organism  into 
its  full  potencies,  or  precede  the  crowning  effort  by  which  a  fresh  organism 
is  introduced  into  the  world. 

Such  at  least  is  my  view;  but  the  full  acceptance  of  this  view  must 
depend  upon  some  very  remote  and  very  speculative  considerations  bear- 
ing upon  the  nature  and  purport  of  the  whole  existence  and  evolution  of 
man.  Yet  however  remote  and  speculative  the  thesis  which  I  defend 
may  be,  it  is  not  one  whit  remoter  or  more  speculative  than  the  view  which, 
jaute  de  tnieux,  is  often  tacitly  assumed  by  scientific  writers. 

In  our  absolute  ignorance  of  the  source  from  whence  life  came,  we 
have  no  ground  for  assuming  that  it  was  a  purely  planetary  product,  or 
that  its  unknown  potentialities  are  concerned  with  purely  planetary  ends. 
It  would  be  as  rash  for  the  biologist  to  assume  that  life  on  earth  can  only 
point  to  generations  of  further  life  on  earth  as  it  would  have  been  for  some 
cosmic  geologist  to  assume  —  before  the  appearance  of  life  on  earth  — 
that  geological  forces  must  needs  constitute  all  the  activity  which  could 
take  place  on  this  planet. 

Since  the  germ  of  life  appeared  on  earth,  its  history  has  been  a  history 
not  only  of  gradual  self-adaptation  to  a  known  environment,  but  of  gradual 
discovery  of  an  environment,  always  there,  but  unknown.  What  we  call 
its  primitive  simple  irritability  was  in  fact  a  dim  panaesthesia;  a  potential 
faculty,  as  yet  unconscious  of  all  the  stimuli  to  which  it  had  not  yet  learnt 
to  respond.  As  these  powers  of  sensation  and  of  response  have  developed, 
they  have  gradually  revealed  to  the  living  germ  environments  of  which 
at  first  it  could  have  no  conception. 


GENIUS  75 

It  is  probable,  to  begin  with,  that  the  only  environment  which  the 
vast  majority  of  our  ancestors  knew  was  simply  hot  water.  For  the  greater 
part  of  the  time  during  which  life  has  existed  on  earth  it  would  have  been 
thought  chimerical  to  suggest  that  we  could  live  in  anything  else.  It 
was  a  great  day  for  us  when  an  ancestor  crawled  up  out  of  the  slowly- 
cooling  sea;  —  or  say  rather  when  a  previously  unsuspected  capacity  for 
directly  breathing  air  gradually  revealed  the  fact  that  we  had  for  long 
been  breathing  air  in  the  water;  —  and  that  we  were  living  in  the  midst 
of  a  vastly  extended  environment,  —  the  atmosphere  of  the  earth.  It 
was  a  great  day  again  when  another  ancestor  felt  on  his  pigment-spot 
the  solar  ray;  —  or  say  rather  when  a  previously  unsuspected  capacity 
for  perceiving  light  revealed  the  fact  that  we  had  for  long  been  acted  upon 
by  light  as  well  as  by  heat;  and  that  we  were  living  in  the  midst  of  a  vastly 
extended  environment,  —  namely,  the  illumined  Universe  that  stretches 
to  the  Milky  Way.  It  was  a  great  day  when  the  first  skate  (if  skate  he 
were)  felt  an  unknown  virtue  go  out  from  him  towards  some  worm  or 
mudfish;  — or  say  rather  when  a  previously  unsuspected  capacity  for 
electrical  excitation  demonstrated  the  fact  that  we  had  long  been  acted 
upon  by  electricity  as  well  as  by  heat  and  by  light;  and  that  we  were  living 
in  an  inconceivable  and  limitless  environment,  —  namely,  an  ether  charged 
with  infinite  energy,  overpassing  and  interpenetrating  alike  the  last  gulf 
of  darkness  and  the  extremest  star.  All  this,  —  phrased  perhaps  in  some 
other  fashion,  —  all  men  admit  as  true.  May  we  not  then  suppose  that 
there  are  yet  other  environments,  other  interpretations,  which  a  further 
awakening  of  faculty  still  subliminal  is  yet  fated  by  its  own  nascent  re- 
sponse to  discover?  Will  it  be  alien  to  the  past  history  of  evolution  if 
I  add:  It  was  a  great  day  when  the  first  thought  or  feeling  flashed  into 
some  mind  of  beast  or  man  from  a  mind  distant  from  his  own  ?  —  when 
a  previously  unsuspected  capacity  of  telepathic  percipience  revealed  the 
fact  that  we  had  long  been  acted  upon  by  telepathic  as  well  as  by 
sensory  stimuli;  and  that  we  were  living  in  an  inconceivable  and  limitless 
environment,  —  a  thought-world  or  spiritual  universe  charged  with 
infinite  life,  and  interpenetrating  and  overpassing  all  human  spirits,  — 
up  to  what  some  have  called  World-Soul,  and  some  God? 

And  now  it  will  be  easily  understood  that  one  of  the  corollaries  from 
the  conception  of  a  constantly  widening  and  deepening  perception  of  an 
environment  infinite  in  infinite  ways,  will  be  that  the  faculties  which  befit 
the  material  environment  have  absolutely  no  primacy,  unless  it  be  of  the 
merely  chronological  kind,  over  those  faculties  which  science  has  often 
called  by-products,  because  they  have  no  manifest  tendency  to  aid  their 


76  CHAPTER    III 

possessor  in  the  struggle  for  existence  in  a  material  world.  The  higher 
gifts  of  genius  —  poetry,  the  plastic  arts,  music,  philosophy,  pure  mathe- 
matics —  all  of  these  are  precisely  as  much  in  the  central  stream  of  evo- 
lution—  are  perceptions  of  new  truth  and  powers  of  new  action  just  as 
decisively  predestined  for  the  race  of  man  —  as  the  aboriginal  Australian's 
faculty  for  throwing  a  boomerang  or  for  swarming  up  a  tree  for  grubs. 
There  is,  then,  about  those  loftier  interests  nothing  exotic,  nothing  acci- 
dental; they  are  an  intrinsic  part  of  that  ever-evolving  response  to  our 
surroundings  which  forms  not  only  the  planetary  but  the  cosmic  history 
of  all  our  race. 

What  inconsistencies,  what  absurdities,  underlie  that  assumption  that 
evolution  means  nothing  more  than  the  survival  of  animals  fittest  to 
conquer  enemies  and  to  overrun  the  earth.  On  that  bare  hypothesis  the 
genus  homo  is  impossible  to  explain.  No  one  really  attempts  to  explain 
him  except  on  the  tacit  supposition  that  Nature  somehow  tended  to  evolve 
intelligence  —  somehow  needed  to  evolve  joy;  was  not  satisfied  with  such 
an  earth-over-runner  as  the  rabbit,  or  such  an  invincible  conqueror  as 
the  influenza  microbe.  But  how  much  intelligence,  what  kind  of  joy 
Nature  aimed  at  —  is  this  to  be  left  to  be  settled  by  the  instinct  of  Vhomme 
sensuel  moyen  ?  or  ought  we  not  rather  to  ask  of  the  best  specimens  of  our 
race  what  it  is  that  they  live  for?  —  whether  they  labour  for  the  meat 
that  perisheth,  or  for  Love  and  Wisdom?  To  more  and  more  among 
mankind  the  need  of  food  is  supplied  with  as  little  conscious  effort  as  the 
need  of  air;  yet  these  are  often  the  very  men  through  whom  evolution  is 
going  on  most  unmistakably  —  who  are  becoming  the  typical  figures  of 
the  swiftly-changing  race. 

Once  more.  If  this  point  of  view  be  steadily  maintained,  we  shall 
gain  further  light  on  some  of  those  strangenesses  and  irregularities  of 
genius  which  have  led  to  its  paradoxical  juxtaposition  with  insanity  as  a 
divergence  from  the  accepted  human  type.  The  distinctive  characteristic 
of  genius  is  the  large  infusion  of  the  subliminal  in  its  mental  output;  and 
one  characteristic  of  the  subliminal  in  my  view  is  that  it  is  in  closer  relation 
than  the  supraliminal  to  the  spiritual  world,  and  is  thus  nearer  to  the  prim- 
itive source  and  extra- terrene  initiation  of  life.  And  earthly  Life  itself 
—  embodied  as  it  is  in  psycho-physically  individualised  forms  —  is,  on 
the  theory  advanced  in  these  pages,  a  product  or  characteristic  of  the 
etherial  or  metetherial  and  not  of  the  gross  material  world.  Thence  in 
some  unknown  fashion  it  came;  there  in  some  unknown  fashion  it  sub- 
sists even  throughout  its  earthly  manifestation;  thither  in  some  unknown 
fashion  it  must  after  earthly  death  return.    If  indeed  the  inspirations 


GENIUS  77 

of  genius  spring  from  a  source  one  step  nearer  to  primitive  reality  than 
is  that  specialised  consensus  of  faculties  which  natural  selection  has  lifted 
above  the  threshold  for  the  purposes  of  working-day  existence,  then  surely 
we  need  not  wonder  if  the  mind  and  frame  of  man  should  not  always 
suffice  for  smooth  and  complete  amalgamation;  if  some  prefiguration  of 
faculties  adapted  to  a  later  stage  of  being  should  mar  the  symmetry  of 
the  life  of  earth. 

And  thus  there  may  really  be  something  at  times  incommensurable 
between  the  inspirations  of  genius  and  the  results  of  conscious  logical 
thought.  Just  as  the  calculating  boy  solves  his  problems  by  methods 
which  differ  from  the  methods  of  the  trained  mathematician,  so  in  artistic 
matters  also  that  "something  of  strangeness"  which  is  in  "all  excellent 
beauty,"  may  be  the  expression  of  a  real  difference  between  subliminal 
and  supraliminal  modes  of  perception.  I  cannot  help  thinking  that  such 
a  difference  is  perceptible  in  subliminal  relations  to  speech;  that  the  sub- 
liminal self  will  sometimes  surpass  conscious  effort,  if  it  is  treating  speech 
as  a  branch  of  Art,  in  Poetry;  —  or  else  in  some  sense  will  fall  short  of 
conscious  effort,  when  it  is  merely  using  words  as  an  unavoidable  medium 
to  express  ideas  which  common  speech  was  hardly  designed  to  convey. 

Thus,  on  the  one  hand,  when  in  presence  of  one  of  the  great  verbal 
achievements  of  the  race  —  say  the  Agamemnon  of  ./Eschyrus  —  it  is  hard 
to  resist  the  obscure  impression  that  some  form  of  intelligence  other  than 
supraliminal  reason  or  conscious  selection  has  been  at  work.  The  result 
less  resembles  the  perfection  of  rational  choice  among  known  data  than 
the  imperfect  presentation  of  some  scheme  based  on  perceptions  which 
we  cannot  entirely  follow. 

But,  on  the  other  hand,  even  though  words  may  thus  be  used  by  genius 
with  something  of  the  mysterious  remoteness  of  music  itself,  it  seems  to 
me  that  our  subliminal  mentation  is  less  closely  bound  to  the  faculty  of 
speech  than  is  our  supraliminal.  There  is  a  phrase  in  common  use  which 
involves  perhaps  more  of  psychological  significance  than  has  yet  been 
brought  out.  Of  all  which  we  can  call  genius,  or  which  we  can  ally  with 
genius  —  of  art,  of  love,  of  religious  emotion  —  it  is  common  to  hear 
men  say  that  they  transcend  the  scope  of  speech.  Nor  have  we  any  reason 
for  regarding  this  as  a  mere  vague  sentimental  expression. 

There  is  no  a  priori  ground  for  supposing  that  language  will  have 
the  power  to  express  all  the  thoughts  and  emotions  of  man.  It  may  indeed 
be  maintained  that  the  inevitable  course  of  its  development  tends  to  ex- 
hibit more  and  more  clearly  its  inherent  limitations.  "Every  language," 
it  has  been  said,  "begins  as  poetry  and  ends  as  algebra."    To  use  the 


78  CHAPTER   III 

terms  employed  in  this  work,  every  language  begins  as  a  subliminal  uprush 
and  ends  as  a  supraliminal  artifice.  Organic  instincts  impel  to  primitive 
ejaculation;  unconscious  laws  of  mind  shape  early  grammar.  But  even 
in  our  own  day  —  and  we  are  still  in  the  earth's  infancy  —  this  naivete 
of  language  is  fast  disappearing.  The  needs  of  science  and  of  commerce 
have  become  dominant,  and  although  our  vocabulary,  based  as  it  is  on 
concrete  objects  and  direct  sensations,  is  refined  for  the  expression  of 
philosophic  thought,  still  we  cannot  wonder  if  our  supraliminal  manipu- 
lation leaves  us  with  an  instrument  less  and  less  capable  of  expressing 
the  growing  complexity  of  our  whole  psychical  being. 

What  then,  we  may  ask,  is  the  attitude  and  habit  of  the  subliminal 
self  likely  to  be  with  regard  to  language?  Is  it  not  probable  that  other 
forms  of  symbolism  may  retain  a  greater  proportional  importance  among 
those  submerged  mental  operations  which  have  not  been  systematised 
for  the  convenience  of  communication  with  other  men? 

I  think  that  an  intelligent  study  of  visual  and  motor  automatism  will 
afford  us  sufficient  proof  that  symbolism,  at  any  rate  pictorial  symbolism, 
becomes  increasingly  important  as  we  get  at  the  contents  of  those  hidden 
strata.  Telepathic  messages,  especially,  which  form,  as  we  shall  see, 
the  special  prerogative  or  characteristic  of  subliminal  communication, 
seem  to  be  conveyed  by  vague  impression  or  by  inward  or  externalised 
picture  oftener  than  by  articulate  speech.  And  I  may  so  far  anticipate 
later  discussion  of  automatic  writings  (whether  self-inspired  or  telepathic) 
as  to  point  out  a  curious  linguistic  quality  which  almost  all  such  writings 
share.  The  "messages"  of  a  number  of  automatists,  taken  at  random, 
will  be  sure  to  resemble  each  other  much  more  closely  than  do  the  supra- 
liminal writings  of  the  same  persons.  Quite  apart  from  their  general 
correspondence  in  ideas  —  which  belongs  to  another  branch  of  our  subject 
—  there  is  among  the  automatic  writings  of  quite  independent  automatists 
a  remarkable  correspondence  of  literary  style.  There  is  a  certain  quality 
which  reminds  one  of  a  translation,  or  of  the  compositions  of  a  person 
writing  in  a  language  which  he  is  not  accustomed  to  talk.  These  charac- 
teristics appear  at  once  in  automatic  script,  even  of  the  incoherent  kind; 
they  persist  when  there  is  no  longer  any  dream-like  incoherence;  they 
are  equally  marked,  even  when,  as  often  happens,  the  automatic  script 
surpasses  in  intelligence,  and  even  in  its  own  kind  of  eloquence,  the 
products  of  the  waking  or  supraliminal  mind. 

And  side  by  side  and  intercurrent  with  these  written  messages  come 
those  strange  meaningless  arabesques  which  have  been  baptized  as  "spirit- 
drawings  "  —  though  they  rarely  show  any  clear  trace  of  the  operation  of 


GENIUS  79 

an  external  intelligence.1  These  complex  and  fanciful  compositions  — 
often  absolutely  automatic  —  appear  to  me  like  a  stammering  or  rudi- 
mentary symbolism;  as  though  the  subliminal  intelligence  were  striving 
to  express  itself  through  a  vehicle  perhaps  more  congenial  to  its  habits 
than  articulate  language. 

Returning,  then,  from  these  illustrations  drawn  from  actual  automa- 
tism to  our  proper  subject  of  genius,  —  that  happy  mixture  of  subliminal 
with  supraliminal  faculty,  —  we  may  ask  ourselves  in  what  kind  of  sub- 
liminal uprush  this  hidden  habit  of  wider  symbolism,  of  self-communion 
beyond  the  limits  of  speech,  will  be  likely  to  manifest  itself  above  the 
conscious  threshold. 

The  obvious  answer  to  this  question  lies  in  the  one  word  Art.  The 
inspiration  of  Art  of  all  kinds  consists  in  the  invention  of  precisely  such  a 
wider  symbolism  as  has  been  above  adumbrated.  I  am  not  speaking, 
of  course,  of  symbolism  of  a  forced  and  mechanical  kind  —  symbolism 
designed  and  elaborated  as  such  —  but  rather  of  that  pre-existent  but 
hidden  concordance  between  visible  and  invisible  things,  between  matter 
and  thought,  between  thought  and  emotion,  which  the  plastic  arts,  and 
music,  and  poetry,  do  each  in  their  own  special  field  discover  and  manifest 
for  human  wisdom  and  joy. 

In  using  these  words,  I  must  repeat,  I  am  far  from  adopting  the  formulae 
of  any  special  school.  The  symbolism  of  which  I  speak  implies  nothing 
of  mysticism.  Nor  indeed,  in  my  view,  can  there  be  any  real  gulf  or  deep 
division  between  so-called  realistic  and  idealistic  schools.  All  that  exists 
is  continuous;  nor  can  Art  symbolise  any  one  aspect  of  the  universe  with- 
out also  implicitly  symbolising  aspects  which  lie  beyond. 

And  thus  in  the  Arts  we  have  symbolism  at  every  stage  of  transparency 
and  obscurity;  from  symbolisms  which  merely  summarise  speech  to  sym- 
bolisms which  transcend  it.  Sometimes,  as  with  Music,  it  is  worse  than 
useless  to  press  for  too  close  an  interpretation.  Music  marches,  and  will 
march  for  ever,  through  an  ideal  and  unimaginable  world.  Her  melody 
may  be  a  mighty  symbolism,  but  it  is  a  symbolism  to  which  man  has  lost  the 
key.  Poetry's  material,  on  the  other  hand,  is  the  very  language  which  she 
would  fain  transcend.  But  her  utterance  must  be  subliminal  and  symbolic, 
if  it  is  to  be  poetry  indeed;  it  must  rise  (as  has  been  already  hinted)  from 
a  realm  profounder  than  deliberate  speech;  it  must  come  charged,  as 
Tennyson  has  it,  with  that  "charm  in  words,  a  charm  no  words  can  give." 

1  Instances  of  this  form  of  automatism  are  described  in  a  book  called  Spirit  Draw- 
ings: a  Personal  Narrative,  by  W.  M.  Wilkinson,  some  account  of  which  is  given  in 
Appendix  811  A  (Vol.  II.)  of  the  unabridged  edition. 


80  CHAPTER    III 

Here,  too,  we  must  dwell  for  a  moment  upon  another  and  higher  kind 
of  internal  visualisation.  I  have  spoken  of  the  arithmetical  prodigy  as 
possessing  a  kind  of  internal  blackboard,  on  which  he  inscribes  with  ease 
and  permanence  his  imaginary  memoranda.  But  blackboards  are  not 
the  only  surfaces  on  which  inscriptions  can  be  made.  There  are  other 
men  —  prodigies  of  a  different  order  —  whose  internal  tabula  is  not  of 
blackened  wood,  but  of  canvas  or  of  marble;  whose  inscriptions  are  not 
rows  of  Arabic  numerals  but  living  lines  of  colour,  or  curves  of  breathing 
stone.  Even  the  most  realistic  art  is  something  more  than  transcript 
and  calculation;  and  for  art's  higher  imaginative  achievements  there  must 
needs  be  moments  of  inward  idealisation  when  visible  beauty  seems  but 
the  token  and  symbol  of  beauty  unrevealed;  when  Praxiteles  must  "draw 
from  his  own  heart  the  archetype  of  the  Eros  that  he  made; "  when  Tintoret 
must  feel  with  Heraclitus  that  "  whatsoever  we  see  waking  is  but  dead- 
ness,  and  whatsoever  sleeping,  is  but  dream." 

But  when  we  reach  this  point  we  have  begun  (as  I  say)  to  transcend 
the  special  province  to  which,  in  Chapter  I,  I  assigned  the  title  of  genius. 
I  there  pointed  out  that  the  influence  of  the  subliminal  on  the  supraliminal 
might  conveniently  be  divided  under  three  main  heads.  When  the  sub- 
liminal mentation  co-operates  with  and  supplements  the  supraliminal, 
without  changing  the  apparent  phase  of  personality,  we  have  genius.  When 
subliminal  operations  change  the  apparent  phase  of  personality  from 
the  state  of  waking  in  the  direction  of  trance,  we  have  hypnotism.  When 
the  subliminal  mentation  forces  itself  up  through  the  supraliminal,  without 
amalgamation,  as  in  crystal-vision,  automatic  writing,  etc.,  we  have  sen- 
sory or  motor  automatism.  In  accordance  with  this  definition,  the  content 
of  the  inspirations  of  genius  is  supposed  to  be  of  the  same  general  type 
as  the  content  of  ordinary  thought.  WTe  have  regarded  genius  as  crystal- 
lising fluid  ideas;  or,  if  you  will,  as  concentrating  and  throwing  upwards 
in  its  clear  fountain  a  maze  of  subterranean  streams.  But  we  have  not 
regarded  it  as  modifying,  in  such  operation,  the  ordinary  alert  wakeful- 
ness of  the  thinker,  nor  as  providing  him  with  any  fresh  knowledge, 
obtainable  by  supernormal  methods  alone. 

It  is  plain,  however,  that  such  distinctions  as  those  which  I  have  drawn 
between  genius,  trance,  automatism,  cannot  possibly  be  rigid  or  absolute. 
They  are  distinctions  made  for  convenience  between  different  phases 
of  what  must  really  be  a  continuous  process  —  namely,  the  influence  of 
the  Self  below  the  threshold  upon  the  Self  above  it.  Between  each  of 
these  definite  phases  all  kinds  of  connections  and  intermediate  stages 
must  surely  exist. 


GENIUS  81 

Connections  between  trance  and  automatism,  indeed,  are  obvious 
enough.  The  difficulty  has  rather  lain  in  their  clear  separation.  Trance, 
when  habitual,  is  pretty  sure  to  lead  to  automatic  speech  or  writing. 
Automatism,  when  prolonged,  is  similarly  apt  to  induce  a  state  of  trance. 

The  links  between  Genius  and  these  cognate  states  are  of  a  less  con- 
spicuous kind.  They  do,  however,  exist  in  such  variety  as  to  confirm 
in  marked  fashion  the  analogies  suggested  above. 

And  first,  as  to  the  connection  between  genius  and  automatism,  one 
may  say  that  just  as  anger  is  a  brief  madness,  so  the  flash  of  Genius  is 
essentially  a  brief  automatism. 

Wordsworth's  moments  of  inspiration,  when,  as  he  says, 

"Some  lovely  image  in  the  song  rose  up 
Full-formed,  like  Venus  rising  from  the  sea," 

were  in  effect  moments  of  automatic  utterance;  albeit  of  utterance  held 
fast  in  immediate  co-operation  with  the  simultaneous  workings  of  the 
supraliminal  self.  Such  a  sudden  poetic  creation,  like  the  calculating 
boy's  announcement  of  the  product  of  two  numbers,  resembles  the  sudden 
rush  of  planchette  or  pencil,  in  haste  to  scrawl  some  long-wished-for  word. 

Now  extend  this  momentary  automatism  a  little  further.  We  come 
then  to  what  is  called  the  faculty  of  improvisation.  How  much  is  meant 
by  this  term?  Is  the  extempore  oration,  "the  unpremeditated  lay,"  in 
truth  a  subliminal  product  ?  or  have  we  to  do  merely  with  the  rapid 
exercise  of  ordinary  powers  ? 

In  the  first  place,  it  is  clear  that  much  of  what  is  called  improvisation 
is  a  matter  of  memory.  The  so-called  secondary  automatism  which 
enables  the  pianist  to  play  a  known  piece  without  conscious  attention 
passes  easily  into  improvisations  which  the  player  himself  may  genuinely 
accept  as  original;  but  which  really  consist  of  remembered  fragments 
united  by  conventional  links  of  connection.  Thus  also  the  orator,  "  think- 
ing on  his  legs,"  trusts  himself  at  first  to  the  automatic  repetition  of  a  few 
stock  phrases,  but  gradually  finds  that  long  periods  flow  unforeseen  and 
unremembered  from  his  tongue. 

We  thus  get  beyond  the  range  of  stereotyped  synergies,  of  habituations 
of  particular  groups  of  nerve-centres  to  common  action.  There  is  some 
adaptability  and  invention;  some  new  paths  are  traversed;  adjustments 
are  made  for  which  no  mere  recurrence  to  old  precedents  will  suffice. 

The  problem  here  resembles  that  well-known  difficulty  of  explaining 
what  goes  on  during  the  restoration  or  "substitution"  of  function  after 
an  injury  to  the  brain.     In  that  case,  the  brain-elements  which  remain 


82  CHAPTER    III 

uninjured  slowly  assume  functions  which  they  apparently  never  exercised 
before,  —  rearranging  paths  of  cerebral  communication  in  order  to  get 
the  old  efficiency  out  of  the  damaged  and  diminished  brain-material.  This 
recovery  is  not  rapid  like  an  extemporisation,  but  gradual,  like  a  healing 
or  re-growth,  and  it  therefore  does  not  suggest  an  intelligent  control  so 
much  as  a  physiological  process,  like  the  re-budding  on  a  certain  pre- 
ordained pattern  of  the  severed  claw  of  a  crab.  Of  course  this  restoration 
of  brain-functions  is  inexplicable,  as  all  growth  is  at  present  inexplicable. 
We  may  call  it  indeed  with  some  reason  the  highest  process  of  human 
growth.  So  viewed,  it  forms  a  kind  of  middle  term  between  ordinary 
growth  of  bone  or  muscle,  always  on  a  predetermined  plan,  and  that  sudden 
creation  of  new  cerebral  connections  or  pathways  which  is  implied  in  an 
inspiration  of  genius.  Such  a  juxtaposition  need  not  weaken  my  claim 
that  the  inspirations  of  genius  represent  a  co-operant  stream  of  submerged 
mentation,  fully  as  developed  in  its  own  way  as  the  mentation  of  which 
we  are  conscious  above  the  threshold.  The  nature  and  degree  of  sub- 
liminal faculty  must  of  course  be  judged  by  its  highest  manifestations. 
And  this  analogy  between  the  hidden  operations  of  genius  and  of  growth 
would  rather  support  me  in  regarding  organic  growth  also  as  controlled 
by  something  of  intelligence  or  memory,  which  under  fitting  conditions 
—  as  in  the  hypnotic  trance  —  may  be  induced  to  co-operate  with  the 
waking  will. 

Moreover,  the  talent  of  improvisation,  which  suggested  these  analogies, 
will  sometimes  act  much  more  persistently  than  in  the  case  of  the  orator 
or  the  musician.  There  is  reason  to  believe  (both  from  internal  style 
and  from  actual  statements)  that  it  plays  a  large  part  in  imaginative  liter- 
ature. Various  passages  from  George  Sand's  life-history,  corroborated 
by  the  statements  of  other  persons  familiar  with  her  methods  of  working, 
reveal  in  her  an  unusual  vigour  and  fertility  of  literary  outflow  going  on 
in  an  almost  dream-like  condition;  a  condition  midway  between  the 
actual  inventive  dreams  of  R.  L.  Stevenson  and  the  conscious  labour 
of  an  ordinary  man's  composition. 

What  George  Sand  felt  in  the  act  of  writing  was  a  continuous  and 
effortless  flow  of  ideas,  sometimes  with  and  sometimes  without  an  apparent 
externalisation  of  the  characters  who  spoke  in  her  romances.  And  turning 
to  another  author,  as  sane  and  almost  as  potent  as  George  Sand  her- 
self, we  find  a  phenomenon  which  would  have  suggested  to  us  actual  in- 
sanity if  observed  in  a  mind  less  robust  and  efficient.  If  the  allusions 
to  the  apparent  independence  of  Dickens's  characters  which  are  scattered 
through  his  letters  be  read  with  our  related  facts  in  view,  it  will  no  longer 


GENIUS  83 

be  thought  that  they  are  intended  as  a  mystification.  Mrs.  Gamp,  his 
greatest  creation,  spoke  to  him,  he  tells  us  (generally  in  church)  as  with 
an  inward  monitory  voice. 

And  note  further  that  as  scientific  introspection  develops  we  are  likely 
to  receive  fuller  accounts  of  these  concurrent  mental  processes,  these  partial 
externalisations  of  the  creatures  of  the  romancer's  brain.  One  such 
account,  both  definite  and  elaborate,  has  been  published  by  M.  Binet 
in  VAnnee  Psychologique  for  1894.1 

This  account,  —  contributed  as  serious  evidence,  as  M.  Binet's  long 
article  shows,  —  is  thoroughly  concordant  with  several  other  cases  already 
known  to  us.  It  comes  midway  between  Stevenson's  dreams  and  the 
hysteric's  idees  fixes. 

I  have  thus  far  endeavoured  to  show  that  Genius  represents  not  only 
the  crystallisation  of  ideas  already  existing  in  floating  form  in  the  supra- 
liminal intelligence,  but  also  an  independent,  although  concurrent,  stream 
of  mentation,  spreading  often  to  wider  range,  although  still  concerned 
with  matters  in  themselves  cognisable  by  the  normal  intelligence. 

Let  us  proceed  to  push  the  inquiry  a  step  further.  It  has  been  claimed 
in  this  work  for  subliminal  uprushes  generally  that  they  often  contain 
knowledge  which  no  ordinary  method  of  research  could  acquire.  Is  this 
supernormal  knowledge  —  we  ought  now  to  ask  —  ever  represented  in 
the  uprushes  to  which  we  give  the  name  of  Genius? 

What  is  the  relation,  in  short,  of  the  man  of  Genius  to  the 
sensitive  ? 

If  the  man  of  Genius  be,  as  I  have  urged,  on  the  whole  the  completest 
type  of  humanity,  and  if  the  sensitive's  special  gift  be  in  itself  one  of  the 
most  advanced  forms  of  human  faculty,  ought  not  the  inspirations  of 
genius  to  bring  with  them  flashes  of  supernormal  knowledge  as  intimate 
as  those  which  the  sensitive  —  perhaps  in  other  respects  a  commonplace 
person  —  from  time  to  time  is  privileged  to  receive  ? 

Some  remarkable  instances  of  this  kind  undoubtedly  do  exist.  The 
most  conspicuous  and  most  important  of  all  cannot,  from  motives  of  rever- 
ence, be  here  discussed.  Nor  will  I  dwell  upon  other  founders  of  religions, 
or  on  certain  traditional  saints  or  sages.  But  among  historical  characters 
of  the  first  mark  the  names  of  Socrates  and  of  Joan  of  Arc  are  enough 
to  cite.  I  believe  that  the  monitions  of  the  Daemon  of  Socrates  —  the 
subliminal  self  of  a  man  of  transcendent  genius  —  have  in  all  probability 
been  described  to  us  with  literal  truth:  and  did  in  fact  convey  to  that  great 
philosopher  precisely  the  kind  of  telsesthetic  or  precognitive  information 

1  VAnnee  Psychologique,  i.  1894,  p.  124,  F.  de  Curel,  par  A.  Binet  [§  330]. 


84  CHAPTER    III    • 

which  forms  the  sensitive's  privilege  to-day.    We  have  thus  in  Socrates 
the  ideal  unification  of  human  powers. 

It  must,  however,  be  admitted  that  such  complete  unification  is  not  the 
general  rule  for  men  of  genius;  that  their  inspirations  generally  stop  short 
of  telepathy  or  of  telaesthesia.  I  think  we  may  explain  this  limitation 
somewhat  as  follows.  The  man  of  genius  is  what  he  is  by  virtue  of  pos- 
sessing a  readier  communication  than  most  men  possess  between  his  supra- 
liminal and  his  subliminal  self.  From  his  subliminal  self,  he  can  only 
draw  what  it  already  possesses;  and  we  must  not  assume  as  a  matter  of 
course  that  the  subliminal  region  of  any  one  of  us  possesses  that  particular 
sensitivity  —  that  specific  transparency  —  which  can  receive  and  register 
definite  facts  from  the  unseen.  That  may  be  a  gift  which  stands  as  much 
alone  —  in  independence  of  other  gifts  or  faculties  —  jp  the  subliminal 
region  as,  say,  a  perfect  musical  ear  in  the  supraliminal.  The  man  of 
genius  may  draw  much  from  those  hidden  wells  of  being  without  seeing 
reflected  therein  any  actual  physical  scene  in  the  universe  beyond  his 
ordinary  ken. 

And  yet  neither  must  we  hastily  assume  that  because  the  man  of  genius 
gets  no  definite  impression  of  a  world  beyond  our  senses  he  does  not 
therefore  get  any  true  impression,  which  is  all  his  own. 

I  believe,  on  the  contrary,  that  true,  though  vague,  impressions  of  a 
world  beyond  the  range  of  sense  are  actually  received  —  I  do  not  say  by 
all  men  of  genius,  but  by  men  of  genius  of  certain  types.1 

A  dim  but  genuine  consciousness  of  the  spiritual  environment ;  that 
(it  seems)  is  the  degree  of  revelation  which  artistic  or  philosophic  genius 
is  capable  of  conferring.  Subliminal  uprushes,  in  other  words,  so  far  as 
they  are  intellectual,  tend  to  become  telczsthetic.  They  bring  with  them 
indefinite  intimations  of  what  I  hold  to  be  the  great  truth  that  the 
human  spirit  is  essentially  capable  of  a  deeper  than  sensorial  perception, 
of  a  direct  knowledge  of  facts  of  the  universe  outside  the  range  of  any 
specialised  organ  or  of  any  planetary  view. 

But  this  conclusion  points  the  way  to  a  speculation  more  important 
still.  Telaesthesia  is  not  the  only  spiritual  law,  nor  are  subliminal  up- 
rushes affairs  of  the  intellect  alone.  Beyond  and  above  man's  innate 
power  of  world-wide  perception,  there  exists  also  that  universal  link  of 
spirit  with  spirit  which  in  its  minor  earthly  manifestations  we  call  telepathy. 
Our  submerged  faculty  —  the  subliminal  uprushes  of  genius  —  can  ex- 

1  In  Wordsworth's  Prelude  we  find  introspective  passages  of  extreme  psychologi- 
cal interest  as  being  deliberate  attempts  to  tell  the  truth  about  exactly  those 
emotions  and  intuitions  which  differentiate  the  poet  from  common  men. 


GENIUS  85 

pand  in  that  direction  as  well  as  in  the  direction  of  telaesthesia.  The 
emotional  content,  indeed,  of  those  uprushes  is  even  profounder  and  more 
important  than  the  intellectual;  —  in  proportion  as  Love  and  Religion 
are  profounder  and  more  important  than  Science  or  Art. 

That  primary  passion,  I  repeat,  which  binds  life  to  life,  which  links 
us  both  to  life  near  and  visible  and  to  life  imagined  but  unseen;  —  that 
is  no  mere  organic,  no  mere  planetary  impulse,  but  the  inward  aspect 
of  the  telepathic  law.  Love  and  religion  are  thus  continuous;  they  repre- 
sent different  phases  of  one  all-pervading  mutual  gravitation  of  souls. 
The  flesh  does  not  conjoin,  but  dissever;  although  through  its  very 
severance  it  suggests  a  shadow  of  the  union  which  it  cannot  bestow.  We 
have  to  do  here  neither  with  a  corporeal  nor  with  a  purely  human 
emotion.  Love  is  the  energy  of  integration  which  makes  a  Cosmos  of 
the  Sum  of  Things. 

But  here  there  is  something  of  controversy  to  traverse  before  a  revived 
Platonic  conception  of  love  can  hope  to  be  treated  by  the  physiologist  as 
more  than  a  pedantic  jest.  And  naturally  so;  since  there  is  no  emotion 
subliminal  over  so  wide  a  range  of  origin,  —  fed  so  obscurely  by  "all 
thoughts,  all  passions,  all  delights,"  —  and  consequently  so  mysterious 
even  to  the  percipient  himself.  At  one  end  of  its  scale  love  is  based  upon 
an  instinct  as  primitive  as  the  need  of  nutrition;  even  if  at  the  other  end  it 
becomes,  as  Plato  has  it,  the  epfirjvevov  k<u  SunropOfievov  "the  Interpreter 
and  Mediator  between  God  and  Man."  The  controversy  as  to  the 
planetary  or  cosmical  scope  of  the  passion  of  Love  is  in  fact  central 
to  our  whole  subject. 

It  will  give  clearness  to  the  question  in  dispute  if  I  quote  here  a  strong 
expression  of  each  view  in  turn.  For  the  physiological  or  materialist 
conception  of  the  passion  of  love,  —  where  love's  subliminal  element  is 
held  to  be  of  the  organic  type,  —  set  forth  in  no  light  or  cynical  spirit,  but 
with  the  moral  earnestness  of  a  modern  Lucretius,  I  can  turn  to  no  better 
authority  than  Professor  Pierre  Janet.  The  passage  which  follows  is  no 
mere  boutade  or  paradox;  it  is  a  kind  of  culminating  expression  of  the 
theory  which  regards  the  supraliminal  man  as  the  normal  man,  and 
distrusts  all  deep  disturbance  of  his  accustomed  psychical  routine. 

It  is  commonly  said  that  love  is  a  passion  to  which  man  is  always 
liable,  and  which  may  surprise  him  at  any  moment  of  his  life  from  15 
to  75.  This  does  not  seem  to  me  accurate;  and  a  man  is  not  throughout 
all  his  life  and  at  every  moment  susceptible  of  falling  in  love  (de  devenir 
amoureux).  When  a  man  is  in  good  physical  and  moral  health,  when 
he  has  easy  and  complete  command  of  all  his  ideas,  he  may  expose  him- 


86  CHAPTER   III 

self  to  circumstances  the  most  capable  of  giving  rise  to  a  passion,  but 
he  will  not  feel  it.  His  desires  will  be  reasonable  and  obedient  to  his 
will,  leading  the  man  only  so  far  as  he  wishes  to  go,  and  disappearing 
when  he  wishes  to  be  rid  of  them.  On  the  other  hand,  if  a  man  is  morally 
below  the  mark  (malade  au  moral),  —  if  in  consequence  of  physical  fatigue 
or  excessive  intellectual  work,  or  of  violent  shocks  and  prolonged  sorrow, 
he  is  exhausted,  melancholy,  distracted,  timid,  incapable  of  controlling 
his  ideas,  —  in  a  word,  depressed,  —  then  he  will  fall  in  love,  or  receive 
the  germ  of  some  kind  of  passion,  on  the  first  and  most  trivial  occasion.  .  .  . 
The  least  thing  is  then  enough;  the  sight  of  some  face,  a  gesture,  a  word, 
which  previously  would  have  left  us  altogether  indifferent,  strikes  us, 
and  becomes  the  starting  point  of  a  long  amorous  malady.  Or  more 
than  this,  an  object  which  had  made  no  impression  on  us,  at  a  moment 
when  our  mind  was  healthier  and  not  capable  of  inoculation,  may  have 
left  in  us  some  insignificant  memory  which  reappears  in  a  moment  of 
morbid  receptivity.  That  is  enough;  the  germ  is  sown  in  a  favourable 
soil;  it  will  develop  itself  and  grow. 

There  is  at  first,  as  in  every  virulent  malady,  a  period  of  incubation; 
the  new  idea  passes  and  repasses  in  the  vague  reveries  of  the  enfeebled 
consciousness;  then  seems  for  a  few  days  to  have  disappeared  and  to  leave 
the  mind  to  recover  from  its  passing  trouble.  But  the  idea  has  done 
its  work  below  the  surface;  it  has  become  strong  enough  to  shake  the  body; 
and  to  provoke  movements  whose  origin  lies  outside  the  primary  con- 
sciousness. What  is  the  surprise  of  a  sensible  man  when  he  finds  himself 
piteously  returning  beneath  the  windows  of  his  charmer,  whither  his  wan- 
dering feet  have  taken  him  without  his  knowledge;  —  or  when  in  the 
midst  of  his  daily  work  he  hears  his  lips  murmuring  perpetually  the  well- 
known  name!  .  .  .  Such  is  passion  in  its  reality;  not  as  idealised  by  fan- 
tastic description,  but  reduced  to  its  essential  psychological  characteristics. 
{V Automatisme  Psychologique,  p.  466.) 

On  the  other  side  I  will  appeal  to  Plato  himself,  giving  a  brief  sketch 
merely  of  one  of  the  leading  passages  (Symposium,  192-212)  where  the 
Platonic  conception  of  love  is  set  forth.1 

Plato  begins  by  recognising,  as  fully  as  pessimist  or  cynic  could  do, 
the  absolute  inadequacy  of  what  is  called  on  earth  the  satisfaction  of  this 
profound  desire.  Lovers  who  love  aright  will  feel  that  no  physical  near- 
ness can  content  them,  but  what  will  content  them  they  cannot  say.  "  Their 
soul,"  says  Plato,  "is  manifestly  desiring  something  else;  and  what  it  is 

1  In  the  passage  which  follows  some  use  has  been  made  of  Jowett's  translation.  It 
is  noticeable  that  this  utterance,  unsurpassed  among  the  utterances  of  antiquity,  has 
been  placed  by  Plato  in  the  mouth  of  a  woman  —  the  prophetess  Diotima  —  with 
the  express  intention,  as  I  think,  of  generalising  it,  and  of  raising  it  above  the  region 
of  sexual  passion.  There  is  nothing  else  in  antiquity  resembling  the  position  thus 
ascribed  to  Diotima  in  reference  to  Socrates,  —  the  woman  being  represented  as 
capable  of  raising  the  highest  and  of  illumining  the  wisest  soul. 


GENIUS  87 

she  cannot  tell,  only  she  darkly  prophesies  thereof  and  guesses  it  from 
afar.  But  if  Hephaestus  with  his  forging  fire  were  to  stand  beside  that 
pair  and  say:  'Is  this  what  ye  desire  —  to  be  wholly  one?  to  be  together 
by  night  and  day  ?  —  for  I  am  ready  to  melt  you  together  and  to  make  you 
grow  in  one,  so  that  from  two  ye  shall  become  one  only,  and  in  this  life 
shall  be  undivided,  and  dying  shall  die  together,  and  in  the  underworld 
shall  be  a  single  soul';  —  there  is  no  lover  who  would  not  eagerly  accept 
the  offer,  and  acknowledge  it  as  the  expression  of  the  unknown  yearning 
and  the  fulfilment  of  the  ancient  need."  And  through  the  mouth  of  Dio- 
tima,  Plato  insists  that  it  is  an  unfailing  sign  of  true  love  that  its  desires 
are  for  ever;  nay,  that  love  may  be  even  defined  as  the  desire  of  the  ever- 
lasting possession  of  the  good.  And  in  all  love's  acts  he  finds  the  impress 
of  man's  craving  for  immortality,  —  for  immortality  whose  only  visible 
image  for  us  on  earth  is  the  birth  of  children  to  us  as  we  ourselves  decay, 
—  so  that  when  the  slow  self-renewal  of  our  own  everchanging  bodies 
has  worn  out  and  ceased,  we  may  be  renewed  in  brighter,  younger  bodies 
which  we  desire  to  be  born  to  us  from  whomsoever  we  find  most  fair. 
"And  then,"  says  Plato,  rising,  as  ever,  from  visible  to  invisible  things, 
"  if  active  bodies  have  so  strong  a  yearning  that  an  endless  series  of  lovely 
images  of  themselves  may  constitute,  as  it  were,  an  earthly  immortality 
for  them  when  they  have  worn  away,  how  greatly  must  creative  souls 
desire  that  partnership  and  close  communion  with  other  souls  as  fair  as 
they  may  bring  to  birth  a  brood  of  lofty  thoughts,  poems,  statues,  insti- 
tutions, laws,  —  the  fitting  progeny  of  the  soul  ? 

"And  he  who  in  his  youth  hath  the  need  of  these  things  in  him,  and 
grows  to  be  a  godlike  man,  wanders  about  in  search  of  a  noble  and  well- 
nurtured  soul;  and  finding  it,  and  in  presence  of  that  beauty  which  he 
forgets  not  night  or  day,  brings  forth  the  beautiful  which  he  conceived 
long  ago;  and  the  twain  together  tend  that  which  he  hath  brought  forth, 
and  are  bound  by  a  far  closer  bond  than  that  of  earthly  children,  since 
the  children  which  are  born  to  them  are  fairer  and  more  immortal  far. 
Who  would  not  choose  to  have  Homer's  offspring  rather  than  any  sons  or 
daughters  of  men  ?  Who  would  not  choose  the  offspring  which  Lycurgus 
left  behind  him,  to  be  the  very  salvation  of  Lacedaemon  and  of  Greece? 
or  the  children  of  Solon,  whom  we  call  Father  of  our  Laws  ?  or  of  other 
men  like  these,  whether  Greeks  or  barbarians,  who  by  great  deeds  that 
they  have  done  have  become  the  begetters  of  every  kind  of  virtue  ?  —  ay, 
and  to  these  men's  children  have  temples  been  set  up,  and  never  to  any 
other  progeny  of  man.  ..." 

"He,  then,  who  to  this  end  would  strive  aright,  must  begin  in  youth 


88  CHAPTER   III 

to  seek  fair  forms,  and  should  learn  first  to  love  one  fair  form  only,  and 
therein  to  engender  noble  thoughts.  And  then  he  will  perceive  that  the 
beauty  of  one  fair  form  is  to  the  beauty  of  another  near  akin;  and  that  if 
it  be  Beauty's  self  he  seek,  it  were  madness  not  to  account  the  beauty  of 
all  forms  as  one  same  thing;  and  considering  this,  he  will  be  the  lover  of 
all  lovely  shapes,  and  will  abate  his  passion  for  one  shape  alone,  despising 
and  deeming  it  but  a  little  thing.  And  this  will  lead  him  on  to  see  that 
the  beauty  of  the  soul  is  far  more  precious  than  any  beauty  of  outward 
form,  so  that  if  he  find  a  fair  soul,  though  it  be  in  a  body  which  hath  but 
little  charm,  he  will  be  constant  thereunto,  and  bring  to  birth  such  thoughts 
as  teach  and  strengthen,  till  he  lead  that  soul  on  to  see  the  beauty  of  actions 
and  of  laws,  and  how  all  beauty  is  in  truth  akin,  and  the  body's  beauty  is 
but  a  little  matter;  and  from  actions  he  will  lead  him  on  to  sciences,  that 
he  may  see  how  sciences  are  fair;  and  looking  on  the  abundance  of  beauty 
may  no  longer  be  as  the  slave  or  bondman  of  one  beauty  or  of  one  law; 
but  setting  sail  into  the  ocean  of  beauty,  and  creating  and  beholding  many 
fair  and  glorious  thoughts  and  images  in  a  philosophy  without  stint  or 
stay,  he  may  thus  at  last  wax  strong  and  grow,  and  may  perceive  that 
there  is  one  science  only,  the  science  of  infinite  beauty. 

"For  he  who  hath  thus  far  had  intelligence  of  love,  and  hath  beheld  all 
fair  things  in  order  and  aright,  —  he  drawing  near  to  the  end  of  things 
lovable  shall  behold  a  Being  marvellously  fair;  for  whose  sake  in  truth  it 
is  that  all  the  previous  labours  have  been  undergone:  One  who  is  from 
everlasting,  and  neither  is  born  nor  perisheth,  nor  can  wax  nor  wane,  nor 
hath  change  or  turning  or  alteration  of  foul  and  fair;  nor  can  that  beauty 
be  imagined  after  the  fashion  of  face  or  hands  or  bodily  parts  and  mem- 
bers, nor  in  any  form  of  speech  or  knowledge,  nor  as  dwelling  in  aught 
but  in  itself;  neither  in  beast  nor  man  nor  earth  nor  heaven  nor  any  other 
creature;  but  Beauty  only  and  alone  and  separate  and  eternal,  which, 
albeit  all  other  fair  things  partake  thereof  and  grow  and  perish,  itself 
without  change  or  increase  or  diminution  endures  for  everlasting.  And 
whoso  being  led  on  and  upward  by  human  loves  begins  to  see  that  Beauty, 
he  is  not  far,  I  say,  from  reaching  the  end  of  all.  And  surely  then,  O 
Socrates  (said  that  guest  from  Mantinea),  man's  life  is  worth  the  living, 
when  he  beholds  that  Primal  Fair;  which  when  thou  seest  it  shall  not 
seem  to  thee  to  be  made  after  the  fashion  of  gold  or  raiment  or  those  forms 
of  earth,  —  whom  now  beholding  thou  art  stricken  dumb,  and  fain,  if  it 
were  possible,  without  thought  of  meat  or  drink,  wouldst  look  and  love 
for  ever.  What  would  it  be,  then,  were  it  granted  to  any  man  to  see  Very 
Beauty  clear;  —  incorruptible  and  undefiled,   not  mingled  with  colour 


GENIUS  89 

or  flesh  of  man,  or  with  aught  that  can  consume  away,  but  single  and 
divine?  Could  man's  life,  in  that  vision  and  beatitude,  be  poor  or  low? 
or  deemest  thou  not  (said  she),  that  then  alone  it  will  be  possible  for  this 
man,  discerning  spiritual  beauty  with  those  eyes  by  which  it  is  spiritually 
discerned,  to  beget  no  shadows  of  virtue,  since  that  is  no  shadow  to  which 
he  clings,  but  virtue  in  very  truth,  since  he  hath  the  very  Truth  in  his 
embrace?  and  begetting  and  rearing  Virtue  as  his  child,  he  must  needs 
become  the  friend  of  God;  and  if  there  be  any  man  who  is  immortal, 
that  man  is  he." 

Between  the  aspects  of  love  here  expressed  in  extreme  terms,  —  the 
planetary  aspect,  if  I  may  so  term  it,  and  the  cosmical,  —  the  choice  is 
momentous.  I  do  not  indeed  say  that  in  our  estimate  of  love  is  involved 
our  estimate  of  Religion;  for  Religion  should  mean  the  sane  response  of 
the  spirit  to  all  that  is  known  of  Cosmic  Law.  But  Religion  in  the  sense 
in  which  it  is  often  used,  —  our  emotional  and  ethical  attitude  towards 
Life  Unseen;  —  this  is  in  reality  too  closely  parallel  to  Platonic  Love  to 
allow  the  psychologist  who  denies  reality  in  the  one  to  assume  reality  in 
the  other.  For  the  Platonic  lover  the  image  of  the  Beloved  one  —  no 
longer  a  matter  of  conscious  summons  and  imagination  —  has  become 
the  indwelling  and  instinctive  impulse  to  noble  thought  and  deed.  Even 
such  to  a  Francis  or  to  a  Theresa  is  the  image  of  the  Divinity  whom  they 
adore;  and  if  they  claim  that  sometimes  in  moments  of  crisis  they  feel 
a  sway,  a  guidance,  a  communicatio  idiomatum  with  the  Divine,  we  may 
point  in  reply  to  the  humbler,  but  more  tangible,  evidence  which  assures 
us  that  even  between  souls  still  inhabiting  and  souls  who  have  quitted  the 
flesh  there  may  exist  a  telepathic  intercommunication  and  an  impalpable 
confluence  from  afar. 

Brief  as  this  survey  has  been,  it  has  served  to  indicate  that  the 
psychical  type  to  which  we  have  applied  the  name  of  genius  may  be 
recognized  in  every  region  of  thought  and  emotion,  as  in  each  direction 
a  man's  every-day  self  may  be  more  or  less  permeable  to  subliminal 
impulses.  Coming,  then,  to  the  question,  "What  is  the  origin  of 
genius?"  I  cannot  accept  the  ordinary  explanation  that  it  is  a  mere 
"sport"  or  mental  by-product,  occurring  as  physical  "sports"  do  in  the 
course  of  evolution.  The  view  which  I  hold, — the  view  which  I  am 
here  suggesting,  is  in  some  sort  a  renewal  of  the  old  Platonic  "reminis- 
cence," in  the  light  of  that  fuller  knowledge  which  is  common  property 
to-day.  I  hold  that  in  the  protoplasm  or  primary  basis  of  all  organic 
life  there  must  have  been  an  inherent  adaptability  to  the  manifesta- 
tion of  all  faculties  which  organic  life  has  in  fact  manifested.     I  hold, 


9o  CHAPTER   III 

of  course,  that  "sports"  or  variations  occur,  which  are  at  present 
unpredictable,  and  which  reveal  in  occasional  offspring  faculties  which 
their  parents  showed  no  signs  of  possessing.  But  I  differ  from  those  who 
hold  that  the  faculty  itself  thus  manifested  is  now  for  the  first  time 
initiated  in  that  stock  by  some  chance  combination  of  hereditary 
elements.  I  hold  that  it  is  not  initiated,  but  only  revealed;  that  the 
"sport"  has  not  called  a  new  faculty  into  being,  but  has  merely  raised 
an  existing  faculty  above  the  threshold  of  supraliminal  consciousness. 

This  view,  if  pushed  back  far  enough,  is  no  doubt  inconsistent  with 
the  way  in  which  evolution  is  generally  conceived.  For  it  denies  that  all 
human  faculties  must  have  been  evoked  by  terrene  experience.  It  assumes 
a  subliminal  self,  with  unknown  faculties,  originated  in  some  unknown 
way,  and  not  merely  by  contact  with  the  needs  which  the  terrene  organism 
has  had  to  meet.  It  thus  seems  at  first  sight  to  be  introducing  a  new 
mystery,  and  to  be  introducing  it  in  a  gratuitous  way. 

To  this  I  reply  in  the  first  place  that  so  far  as  the  origin  of  man's  known 
powers  is  concerned,  no  fresh  mystery  is  in  fact  introduced.  All  human 
powers,  to  put  the  thing  broadly,  have  somehow  or  other  to  be  got  into 
protoplasm  and  then  got  out  again.  You  have  to  explain  first  how  they 
became  implicit  in  the  earliest  and  lowest  living  thing,  and  then  how  they 
have  become  thus  far  explicit  in  the  latest  and  highest.  All  the  faculties 
of  that  highest  being,  I  repeat,  existed  virtually  in  the  lowest,  and  in  so 
far  as  the  admitted  faculties  are  concerned,  the  difference  between  my 
view  and  the  ordinary  view  may  be  said  to  be  little  more  than  a  difference 
as  to  the  sense  which  that  word  virtually  is  here  to  assume. 

The  real  difference  between  the  two  views  appears  when  the  faculties 
which  I  have  called  unknown  come  to  be  considered.  If  they  are  held 
to  be  real,  my  view  is  certainly  the  better  able  to  embrace  them.  I  hold 
that  telepathy  and  telaesthesia  do  in  fact  exist  —  telepathy,  a  communica- 
tion between  incarnate  mind  and  incarnate  mind,  and  perhaps  between 
incarnate  minds  and  minds  unembodied;  telaesthesia,  a  knowledge  of 
things  terrene  which  overpasses  the  limits  of  ordinary  perception,  and 
which  perhaps  also  achieves  an  insight  into  some  other  than  terrene  world. 
And  these  faculties,  I  say,  cannot  have  been  acquired  by  natural  selection, 
for  the  preservation  of  the  race,  during  the  process  of  terrene  evolution; 
they  were  (as  we  may  phrase  it)  the  products  of  extra-terrene  evolution. 
And  if  they  were  so,  man's  other  powers  may  well  have  been  so  also.  The 
specialised  forms  of  terrene  perception  were  not  real  novelties  in  the  uni- 
verse, but  imperfect  adaptations  of  protoplasm  to  the  manifestation  of 
the   indwelling   general   perceptive   power.     The   mathematical   faculty, 


GENIUS  91 

for  instance  (we  may,  perhaps,  say  with  Plato),  pre-existed.  When  Dase 
solved  all  those  sums  in  his  head,  his  power  of  solving  them  was  not  a 
fresh  development  in  his  ancestral  stock,  but  depended  on  the  accidental 
adaptation  of  his  organism  to  the  manifestation  of  the  indwelling  compu- 
tative  power.  I  do  not  indeed  venture  to  follow  Plato  in  his  ontogenetic 
argument  —  his  claim  that  the  individual  computator  has  had  already 
an  individual  training  in  computation.  I  do  not  say  that  Dase  himself 
learnt  or  divined  the  multiplication-table  in  some  ideal  world.  I  only 
say  that  Dase  and  all  the  rest  of  us  are  the  spawn  or  output  of  some  unseen 
world  in  which  the  multiplication-table  is,  so  to  speak,  in  the  air.  Dase 
trailed  it  after  him,  as  the  poet  says  of  the  clouds  of  glory,  when  he 
"descended  into  generation"  in  a  humble  position  at  Hamburg. 

In  him  and  in  his  ancestors  were  many  faculties  which  were  called  out 
by  the  struggle  for  existence,  and  became  supraliminal.  But  there  were 
many  faculties  also  which  were  not  thus  called  out,  and  which  conse- 
quently remained  subliminal.  To  these  faculties,  as  a  rule,  his  supra- 
liminal self  could  get  no  access.  But  by  some  chance  of  evolution  — 
some  sport  —  a  vent-hole  was  opened  at  this  one  point  between  the  different 
strata  of  his  being,  and  a  subliminal  uprush  carried  his  computative  faculty 
into  the  open  day. 

Two  things,  of  course,  are  assumed  in  this  argument  for  which  Science 
offers  no  guarantee.  I  assume  in  the  man  a  soul  which  can  draw  strength 
and  grace  from  a  spiritual  Universe,  and  conversely  I  assume  in  the  Uni- 
verse a  Spirit  accessible  and  responsive  to  the  soul  of  man.  These  are 
familiar  postulates.  Every  religion  has  claimed  them  in  turn;  although 
every  religion  in  turn  has  so  narrowed  their  application  as  grievously  to 
narrow  the  evidence  available  for  their  support.  But  that  which  religions 
have  claimed  for  their  Founders  or  for  their  Saints  —  and  what  is  sanctity 
but  the  genius  of  the  ethical  realm  ?  —  Psychology  must  claim  for  every 
form  of  spiritual  indrawing,  every  form  of  spiritual  response;  for  sleeping 
vision,  for  hypnotic  rejuvenation,  for  sensory  and  motor  automatisms,  for 
trance,  for  ecstasy.  The  philosopher  who  has  cried  with  Marcus  Aurelius 
"Either  Providence  or  atoms!"  —  who  has  declared  that  without  this 
basis  in  the  Unseen,  "the  moral  Cosmos  would  be  reduced  to  a  Chaos"; 
—  should  he  not  welcome  even  the  humblest  line  of  research  which  fain 
would  gather  from  every  unsolved  problem  some  hint  as  to  the  spiritual 
law  unknown  which  in  time  may  give  the  solution  of  all  ? 

We  know  not  in  what  directions  —  directions  how  definitely  predeter- 
mined—  even  physical  organisms  can  vary  from  the  common  type.  We 
know  not  what  amount  of  energy  any  given  plant  or  animal  can  absorb 


92  CHAPTER    III 

and  incorporate  from  earth  and  air  and  sun.  Still  less  can  we  predict 
or  limit  the  possible  variations  of  the  soul,  the  fulness  which  it  may  receive 
from  the  World-Soul,  its  possible  heritage  of  grace  and  truth.  But  in 
genius  we  can  watch  at  each  stage  the  processes  of  this  celestial  nurture. 
We  can  imagine  the  outlook  of  joyous  trustfulness;  we  can  almost  seem, 
with  Wordsworth,  to  remember  the  child's  soul  entering  into  the  Kingdom 
of  Heaven.  Childhood  is  genius  without  capacity;  it  makes  for  most  of 
us  our  best  memory  of  inspiration,  and  our  truest  outlook  upon  the  real, 
which  is  the  ideal,  world. 

From  a  greater  distance  we  can  watch  the  inward  stir  of  mighty  thought, 
the  same  for  ^schylus,  for  Newton,  for  Virgil;  —  a  stir  independent  of 
worldly  agitation;  like  the  swing  and  libration  of  the  tide- wave  across 
the  ocean,  which  takes  no  note  of  billow  or  of  storm. 

Nay,  we  can  see  against  the  sun  "the  eagle  soaring  above  the  tomb 
of  Plato,"  and  in  Paul,  as  in  Plotinus,  we  can  catch  that  sense  of  self- 
fulfilment  in  self-absorption,  of  rapture,  of  deliverance,  which  the  highest 
minds  have  bequeathed  to  us  as  the  heritage  of  their  highest  hours. 

These  our  spiritual  ancestors  are  no  eccentrics  nor  degenerates;  they 
have  made  for  us  the  sanest  and  most  fruitful  experiment  yet  made  by 
man;  they  have  endeavoured  to  exalt  the  human  race  in  a  way  in  which 
it  can  in  truth  be  exalted;  they  have  drawn  on  forces  which  exist,  and  on 
a  Soul  which  answers;  they  have  dwelt  on  those  things  "by  dwelling  on 
which  it  is,"  as  Plato  has  it,  "that  even  God  is  divine." 


CHAPTER  IV 

SLEEP 

dXftiq.  5'  diravres  afcrq,  \valirovov  p.€T<xvl<r<rovTai  reXevrdv. 

kclI  trtD/xa  jxkv  iravruv  tirerai  6avdr(p  Trepurdtvei, 

%b)bv  5'  en  \hirerai  alQpos  etdoSKov    rb  ydp  iari  [ibvov 

iic  de&v  evdei  8£  irpaacrbvTuv  p.e\£<av,  drdp  €vdbvT€<r<rtu  eV  7ro\\o?5  ovetpou 

delKPvo-i  repirvQv  {<p4pTroio-av  xa^€ir&v  T€  Kplcrtv. 

—  Pindar. 

The  preceding  chapters  have  carried  us  two  steps  upon  our  way.  In 
Chapter  II.  we  gained  some  insight  into  the  structure  of  human  person- 
ality by  analysing  some  of  the  accidents  to  which  it  is  subject;  in  the 
third  chapter  we  viewed  this  personality  in  its  normal  waking  state,  and 
considered  how  that  norm  should  be  denned,  and  in  what  manner  certain 
fortunate  persons  had  integrated  the  personality  still  further  by  utilising 
uprushes  of  subliminal  faculty  to  supplement  or  to  crystallise  the  products 
of  supraliminal  thought. 

The  review  of  these  two  chapters  indicates  clearly  enough  what  my 
next  step  must  be.  It  is  obvious  that  in  my  review  of  phases  or  alterna- 
tions of  personality  I  have  left  out  of  sight  the  most  constant,  the  most 
important  alternation  of  all.  I  have  thus  far  said  nothing  of  sleep.  Yet 
that  change  of  personality,  at  least,  has  been  borne  in  on  every  one's  notice; 
—  not,  certainly,  as  a  morbid  curiosity,  but  as  an  essential  part  of  life. 

Let  us  then  consider  the  specific  characteristics  of  sleep.  The  defini- 
tion of  sleep  is  an  acknowledged  crux  in  physiology.  And  I  would  point 
out  that  the  increased  experience  of  hypnotic  sleep  which  recent  years 
have  afforded  has  made  this  difficulty  even  more  striking  than  before. 
A  physiological  explanation  must  needs  assume  that  some  special  bodily 
condition,  —  such,  for  instance,  as  the  clogging  of  the  brain  by  waste- 
products,  —  is  at  least  the  usual  antecedent  of  sound  sleep.  But  it  is 
certain,  on  the  other  hand,  that  with  a  large  percentage  of  persons  pro- 
found and  prolonged  sleep  can  be  induced,  in  any  bodily  condition,  by 
simple  suggestion.  Hypnosis,  indeed  (as  Wetterstrand  and  others  have 
shown)  may  be  prolonged,  with  actual  benefit  to  the  sleeper,  far  beyond 

93 


94  CHAPTER   IV 

the  point  which  the  spontaneous  sleep  of  a  healthy  subject  ever  reaches. 
A  good  subject  can  be  awakened  and  thrown  into  hypnosis  again  almost 
at  pleasure,  and  independently  of  any  state  either  of  nutrition  or  of  fatigue. 
Such  sleep  belongs  to  those  phenomena  which  we  may  call  nervous  if  we 
will,  but  which  we  can  observe  or  influence  from  the  psychological  side 
alone. 

We  can  hardly  hope,  from  the  ordinary  data,  to  arrive  at  a  definition 
of  sleep  more  satisfactory  than  others  have  reached.  We  must  defer  that 
attempt  until  we  have  collected  something  more  than  the  ordinary  evidence 
as  to  what  occurs  or  does  not  occur  during  the  abeyance  of  waking  life. 
One  point,  however,  is  plain  at  once.  We  cannot  treat  sleep,  —  as  it  has 
generally  been  treated,  —  in  its  purely  negative  aspect.  We  cannot  be 
content  merely  to  dwell,  with  the  common  text-books,  on  the  mere  absence 
of  waking  faculties;  —  on  the  diminution  of  external  perception,  the  ab- 
sence of  controlling  intelligence.  We  must  treat  sleep  positively,  so  far 
as  we  can,  as  a  definite  phase  of  our  personality,  co-ordinate  with  the  waking 
phase.  Each  phase,  as  I  believe,  has  been  differentiated  alike  from  a 
primitive  indifference;  —  from  a  condition  of  lowly  organisms  which 
merited  the  name  neither  of  sleep  nor  of  waking.  Nay,  if  there  were  to 
be  a  contest  as  to  which  state  should  be  deemed  primary  and  which  second- 
ary, sleep  might  put  forward  its  claim  to  be  regarded  as  the  more  primitive 
phase.  It  is  sleep  rather  than  vigilance  which  prenatal  and  infantile  life 
suggest;  and  even  for  us  adults,  however  much  we  may  associate  ourselves 
in  thought  with  the  waking  state  alone,  that  state  has  at  least  thus  much 
of  secondary  and  adventitious  that  it  is  maintained  for  short  periods  only, 
which  we  cannot  artificially  lengthen,  being  plainly  unable  to  sustain  itself 
"without  frequent  recourse  to  that  fuller  influx  of  vitality  which  slumber 
brings. 

Out  of  slumber  proceeds  each  fresh  arousal  and  initiation  of  waking 
activities.  What  other  activities  may  in  slumber  be  aroused  and  initiated 
the  evidence  to  be  set  forth  in  this  chapter  should  help  us  to  say.  To 
some  extent  at  least  the  abeyance  of  the  supraliminal  life  must  be  the 
liberation  of  the  subliminal.  To  some  extent  the  obscuration  of  the  noon- 
day glare  of  man's  waking  consciousness  must  reveal  the  far-reaching 
faint  corona  of  his  unsuspected  and  impalpable  powers. 

Entering,  then,  upon  a  review  of  sleeping  faculty,  thus  inevitably  im- 
perfect, we  may  best  begin  from  the  red  end  of  our  spectrum  of  conscious- 
ness;—  the  red  end  which  represents  the  deepest  power  which  waking 
effort  can  exert  upon  our  physical  organism. 

Our  survey  of  the  efficacy  of  sleep,  indeed,  must  make  its  beginning 


SLEEP  95 

beyond  that  limit.  For  assuredly  in  sleep  some  agency  is  at  work  which 
far  surpasses  waking  efficacy  in  this  respect.  It  is  a  fully  admitted,  al- 
though an  absolutely  unexplained  fact,  that  the  regenerative  quality  of 
healthy  sleep  is  something  sui  generis,  which  no  completeness  of  waking 
quiescence  can  rival  or  approach.  A  few  moments  of  sleep  —  a  mere  blur 
across  the  field  of  consciousness  —  will  sometimes  bring  a  renovation  which 
hours  of  lying  down  in  darkness  and  silence  would  not  yield.  A  mere 
bowing  of  the  head  on  the  breast,  if  consciousness  ceases  for  a  second  or 
two,  may  change  a  man's  outlook  on  the  world.  At  such  moments,  —  and 
many  persons,  like  myself,  can  fully  vouch  for  their  reality,  —  one  feels  that 
what  has  occurred  in  one's  organism,  —  alteration  of  blood-pressure,  or 
whatever  it  be,  —  has  been  in  some  sense  discontinuous ;  that  there  has  been 
a  break  in  the  inward  regime,  amounting  to  much  more  than  a  mere  brief 
ignoring  of  stimuli  from  without.  The  break  of  consciousness  is  associated 
in  some  way  with  a  potent  physiological  change.  That  is  to  say,  even  in 
the  case  of  a  moment  of  ordinary  sleep  we  already  note  the  appearance  of 
that  special  recuperative  energy  which  is  familiar  in  longer  periods  of  sleep, 
and  which,  as  we  shall  presently  see,  reaches  a  still  higher  level  in  hyp- 
notic trance. 

This  recuperative  power,  then,  lies  just  beyond  the  red  end  of  our 
spectrum  of  waking  faculty.  In  that  obscure  region  we  note  only  added 
power;  an  increased  control  over  organic  functions  at  the  foundation  of 
bodily  life.  But  when  we  pass  on  within  the  limits  of  our  spectrum  of 
waking  consciousness;  —  when  we  come  to  control  over  voluntary  muscles, 
or  to  sensory  capacity,  we  find  that  our  comparison  between  sleeping  and 
waking  faculty  is  no  longer  a  simple  one.  On  the  one  hand,  there  is  of 
course  a  general  blank  and  abeyance  of  control  over  the  realm  of  waking 
energies;  —  or  in  partial  sleep  a  mere  fantastic  parody  of  those  energies 
in  incoherent  dream.  On  the  other  hand,  we  find  that  sleep  is  capable 
of  strange  developments,  —  and  that  night  can  sometimes  suddenly  outdo 
the  most  complex  achievements  of  day. 

Take  first  the  degree  of  control  over  the  voluntary  muscles.  In  or- 
dinary sleep  this  is  neither  possessed  nor  desired;  in  nightmare  its  loss  is 
exaggerated,  in  quasi-hysterical  fashion,  into  an  appalling  fear;  while  in 
somnambulism,  —  a  kind  of  new  personality  developed  ad  hoc,  —  the 
sleeper  (as  we  shall  see  later  on)  walks  on  perilous  ridges  with  steady  feet. 
I  have  already  said  that  morbid  somnambulism  bears  to  sound  sleep  a 
relation  something  like  that  which  hysteria  bears  to  normal  life.  But 
between  the  healthy  somnambulist  and  the  subject  of  nightmare  we  find 
from  another  point  of  view  a  contrast  resembling  that  between  the  man 


96  CHAPTER   IV 

of  genius  and  the  hysteric.  The  somnambulist,  like  the  man  of  genius, 
brings  into  play  resources  which  are  beyond  ordinary  reach.  On  the  other 
hand,  just  as  in  many  hysterics  certain  ordinary  powers  of  movement  have 
lapsed  below  voluntary  control,  so  also  the  dreamer  who  dimly  wishes  to 
move  a  constrained  limb  is  often  unable  to  send  thither  a  sufficient  current 
of  motor  energy  to  effect  the  desired  change  of  position.  That  nightmare 
inability  to  move,  which  we  thus  feel  in  dream,  —  "when  neither  he  that 
fleeth  can  flee,  nor  he  that  pursueth  pursue,"  —  that  sensation  which  both 
Homer  and  Virgil  have  selected  as  the  type  of  paralysing  bewilderment,1 
—  this  is  just  the  dboulia  of  the  hysteric ;  —  the  condition  when  it  takes  a 
man  half  an  hour  to  put  on  his  hat,  or  when  a  woman  sits  all  the  morning 
looking  at  her  knitting,  but  unable  to  add  a  stitch. 

"Somnambulism,"  however,  is  too  vague  and  undefined  a  term  for 
our  present  discussion.  It  will  only  be  by  a  comparison  with  hypnotism, 
in  the  next  chapter,  that  we  can  hope  to  get  some  clearer  notion  of  "sleep- 
waking"  states. 

Let  us  pass  on  to  consider  entencephalic  sensory  faculty,  —  "mind's 
eye"  faculty,  —  as  shown  in  sleep  or  dream.  Here  too  we  shall  find  the 
same  rule  to  prevail  as  with  motor  faculty.  That  is  to  say,  on  the  whole 
the  sensory  faculty  is  of  course  dimmed  and  inhibited  by  sleep;  but  there 
are  nevertheless  indications  of  a  power  subsisting  as  vividly  as  ever,  or 
with  even  added  acuteness. 

Baillarger  in  France  and  Griesinger  in  Germany  (both  about  1845) 
were  among  the  first  to  call  attention  to  the  vivid  images  which  rise  before 
the  internal  vision  of  many  persons,  between  sleep  and  waking.  M.  Alfred 
Maury,  the  well-known  Greek  scholar  and  antiquary,  gave  to  these  images 
a  few  years  later  the  title  of  illusions  hypnagogiques,  and  published  a  re- 
markable series  of  observations  upon  himself.  Mr.  Galton  has  further 
treated  of  them  in  his  Inquiry  into  Human  Faculty;  and  cases  will  be 
found  in  Phantasms  oj  the  Living,  vol.  i,  pp.  390,  473,  etc. 

These  visions  may  be  hypnopompic  as  well  as  hypnagogic;  —  may 
appear,  that  is  to  say,  at  the  moment  when  slumber  is  departing  as  well  as 
at  the  moment  when  it  is  coming  on;  —  and  in  either  case  they  are  closely 
related  to  dreams;  the  "hypnagogic  illusions"  or  pictures  being  sometimes 
repeated  in  dream  (as  with  Maury),  and  the  hypnopompic  pictures  con- 
sisting generally  in  the  persistence  of  some  dream-image  into  the  first 
moments  of  waking.  In  either  case  they  testify  to  an  intensified  power 
of  inward  visualisation  at  a  very  significant  moment ;  —  a  moment  which 
is  actually  or  virtually  one  of  sleep,  but  which  yet  admits  of  definite 
1  Iliad,  xxii.  199 ;  JEneid,  xii.  908. 


SLEEP  97 

comparison  with  adjacent  moments  of  waking.  We  may  call  the  condition 
one  of  cerebral  or  " mind's  eye"  hyperesthesia,  —  an  exalted  sensibility  of 
special  brain-centres  in  response  to  those  unknown  internal  stimuli  which 
are  always  giving  rise  to  similar  but  fainter  inward  visions  even  in  broadly 
waking  hours. 

For  those  who  are  already  good  visualisers  such  phenomena  as  these, 
though  striking  enough,  present  no  quite  unique  experience.  For  bad 
visualisers,  on  the  other  hand,  the  vividness  of  these  hypnagogic  pictures 
may  be  absolutely  a  revelation. 

The  degree  of  acuteness,  not  of  the  visualising  faculty  alone,  but  of  all 
the  senses  in  dream,  is  a  subject  for  direct  observation,  and  even  —  for 
persons  who  can  at  all  control  their  dreams  —  for  direct  experiment. 
Some  correspondents  report  a  considerable  apparent  accession  of  sen- 
sory power  in  dream.  Others  again  speak  of  the  increased  vividness 
of  dramatic  conception,  or  of  what  has  been  called  in  a  hypnotic  sub- 
ject " objectivation  of  types."  "In  each  of  these  dreams,"  writes  one 
lady,  "I  was  a  man;  —  in  one  of  them  a  low  brute,  in  the  other  a  dip- 
somaniac. I  never  had  the  slightest  conception  of  how  such  persons 
felt  or  thought  until  these  experiences."  Another  correspondent  speaks 
of  dreaming  two  disconnected  dreams,  —  one  emotional  and  one  geo- 
metrical, —  simultaneously,  and  of  consequent  sense  of  confusion  and 
fatigue. 

The  "Chapter  on  Dreams,"  in  R.  L.  Stevenson's  volume,  Across  the 
Plains  (already  referred  to  in  the  last  chapter),  contains  a  description  of 
the  most  successful  dream-experiments  thus  far  recorded.  By  self-sugges- 
tion before  sleep  Stevenson  could  secure  a  visual  and  dramatic  intensity  of 
dream-representation  which  furnished  him  with  the  motives  for  some  of  his 
most  striking  romances.  His  account,  written  with  admirable  psycho- 
logical insight,  is  indispensable  to  students  of  this  subject.  I  am  mention- 
ing these  well-known  phenomena,  as  the  reader  will  understand,  with  a 
somewhat  novel  purpose  —  to  show,  namely,  that  the  internal  sensory 
perceptions  or  imaginative  faculty  of  sleep  may  exceed  that  of  vigilance  in 
something  the  same  way  as  the  recuperative  agency  of  sleep  surpasses  the 
vis  medicatrix  of  waking  hours. 

I  pass  on  to  a  less  frequent  phenomenon,  which  shows  us  at  once  in- 
tense imagination  during  sleep,  and  a  lasting  imprint  left  by  these  imagina- 
tions upon  the  waking  organism;  —  an  unintended  self-suggestion  which 
we  may  compare  with  Stevenson's  voluntary  self-suggestion  mentioned 
just  above. 

The  permanent  result  of  a  dream,  I  say,  is  sometimes  such  as  to  show 


98  CHAPTER   IV 

that  the  dream  has  not  been  a  mere  superficial  confusion  of  past  waking 
experiences,  but  has  had  an  unexplained  potency  of  its  own,  —  drawn,  like 
the  potency  of  hypnotic  suggestion,  from  some  depth  in  our  being  which 
the  waking  self  cannot  reach.  Two  main  classes  of  this  kind  are  conspicu- 
ous enough  to  be  easily  recognised  —  those,  namely,  where  the  dream 
has  led  to  a  "conversion"  or  marked  religious  change,  and  those  where  it 
has  been  the  starting-point  of  an  " insistent  idea"  or  of  a  fit  of  actual  in- 
sanity.1 The  dreams  which  convert,  reform,  change  character  and  creed, 
have  of  course  a  prima  facie  claim  to  be  considered  as  something  other 
than  ordinary  dreams;  and  their  discussion  may  be  deferred  till  a  later 
stage  of  our  inquiry.  Those,  on  the  other  hand,  which  suddenly  generate 
an  insistent  idea  of  an  irrational  type  are  closely  and  obviously  analogous 
to  post-hypnotic  self-suggestions,  which  the  self  that  inspired  them  cannot 
be  induced  to  countermand.  Such  is  the  dream  related  by  M.  Taine,2 
where  a  gendarme,  impressed  by  an  execution  at  which  he  has  assisted, 
dreams  that  he  himself  is  to  be  guillotined,  and  is  afterwards  so  influenced 
by  the  dream  that  he  attempts  suicide.  Several  cases  of  this  kind  have 
been  collected  by  Dr.  Faure  ;3  and  Dr.  Tissie,  in  his  interesting  little  work, 
Les  Reves,  has  added  some  curious  instances  from  his  own  observation. 

A  striking  illustration  may  be  drawn  from  the  following  incident  in  the 
story  of  Krafft-Ebing's  patient,4  lima  S.,  the  genuineness  of  whose  stigmata 
seems  proved  by  that  physician's  care  in  observation,  and  by  the  painful- 
ness  of  certain  experiments  performed  upon  her  by  students  as  practical 
jokes  and  against  her  will:  — 

May  6th,  1888.  —  The  patient  is  disturbed  to-day.  She  complains 
to  the  sister  of  severe  pain  under  the  left  breast,  thinks  that  the  professor 
has  burnt  her  in  the  night,  and  begs  the  sister  to  obtain  a  retreat  for  her 
in  a  convent,  where  she  will  be  secure  against  such  attacks.  The  sister's 
refusal  causes  a  hystero-epileptic  attack.  [At  length,  in  the  hypnotic 
trance]  the  patient  gives  the  following  explanation  of  the  origin  of  the 
pain:  "Last  night  an  old  man  came  to  me;  he  looked  like  a  priest  and 
came  in  company  with  a  Sister  of  Charity,  on  whose  collet  there  was  a 
large  golden  B.  I  was  afraid  of  her.  The  old  man  was  amiable  and 
friendly.  He  dipped  a  pen  in  the  sister's  pocket,  and  with  it  wrote  a  W 
and  B  on  my  skin  under  the  left  breast.  Once  he  dipped  his  pen  badly 
and  made  a  blot  in  the  middle  of  the  figure.  This  spot  and  the  B 
pain  me  severely,  but  the  W  does  not.    The  man  explained  the  W 

1  See  Dr.  Fere  in  Brain  for  January  1887. 

2  De  V Intelligence,  vol.  i.  p.  119. 

3  Archives  de  Medecine,  vol.  i.  1876,  p.  554. 

4  An  Experimental  Study  in  Hypnotism,  by  Dr.  R.  von  Krafft-Ebing,  translated 
by  Dr.  C.  G.  Chaddock,  p.  91. 


SLEEP  99 

as  meaning  that  I  should  go  to  the  M  church  and  confess  at  the  W  con- 
fessional." 

After  this  account  the  patient  cried  out  and  said,  "  There  stands  the 
man  again.     Now  he  has  chains  on  his  hands." 

When  the  patient  woke  into  ordinary  life  she  was  suffering  pain  in 
the  place  indicated,  where  there  were  "superficial  losses  of  substance, 
penetrating  to  the  corium,  which  have  a  resemblance  to  a  reversed  W 
and  B,"  with  "a  hyperaemic  raised  spot  between  the  two."  Nowhere 
in  this  peculiar  neurotrophic  alteration  of  the  skin,  which  is  identical 
with  those  previously  produced  experimentally,  are  there  traces  of  in- 
flammation. The  pain  and  the  memory  of  the  dream  were  removed 
by  the  doctor's  suggestion;  but  the  dream  self-suggestion  to  confess  at 
the  M  church  persisted;  and  the  patient,  without  knowing  why,  did 
actually  go  and  confess  to  the  priest  of  her  vision. 

In  this  last  case  we  have  a  dream  playing  the  part  of  a  powerful  post- 
hypnotic suggestion.  The  meaning  of  this  vague  term  "suggestion"  we 
shall  have  to  discuss  in  a  later  chapter.  It  is  enough  to  notice  here  the 
great  power  of  a  subliminal  suggestion  which  can  make  an  impression  so 
much  stronger  not  only  than  the  usual  evanescent  touch  of  dream,  but  than 
the  actual  experiences  of  waking  day. 

But  this  case  may  also  serve  to  lead  us  on  to  further  reflections  as  to 
the  connection  between  dream-memory  and  hypnotic  memory,  a  connection 
which  points,  as  we  shall  presently  see,  towards  the  existence  of  some  sub- 
liminal continuity  of  memory,  lying  deeper  down  than  the  evocable  memory 
of  common  life  —  the  stock  of  conscious  reminiscences  on  which  we  can 
draw  at  will. 

With  regard  to  memory,  as  with  regard  to  sensation,  we  seem  in  waking 
life  to  be  dealing  with  a  selection  made  for  purposes  of  earthly  use.  From 
the  pre-conscious  unselective  memory  which  depends  on  the  mere  organisa- 
tion of  living  matter,  it  is  the  task  of  consciousness,  as  it  dawns  in  each 
higher  organism,  to  make  its  own  appropriate  selection  and  to  develop 
into  distinctness  certain  helpful  lines  of  reminiscence.  The  question  of 
self-preservation  —  What  must  I  needs  be  aware  of  in  order  to  escape 
my  foes  ?  —  involves  the  question,  What  must  I  needs  remember  in  order 
to  act  upon  the  facts  of  which  I  am  aware?  The  selected  currents  of 
memory  follow  the  selected  avenues  of  sensation;  what  by  disuse  I  lose 
the  power  of  noticing  at  the  time,  I  also  lose  the  power  of  recalling 
afterwards. 

For  simpler  organisms  this  rule  may  perhaps  suffice.  Man  needs  a 
more  complex  formula.  For  it  may  happen,  as  we  have  already  seen, 
that  two  or  more  phases  of  personality  in  one  man  may  each  select  from 
the  mass  of  potential  reminiscences  a  special  group  of  memories  of  its  own. 


ioo  CHAPTER   IV 

These  special  groups,  moreover,  may  bear  to  one  another  all  kinds  of 
relations;  one  may  include  another,  or  they  may  alternate  and  may  be 
apparently  co-exclusive. 

From  these  dissociations  and  alternations  of  memory  there  will  be 
many  lessons  to  learn.  The  lesson  which  here  presents  itself  is  not  the 
least  important.  What  is  the  relation  of  the  sleeping  state  to  these  dis- 
sociated, these  parallel  or  concentric  memories  ?  Is  it  the  case  that  when 
one  memory  includes  another  it  is  the  waking  memory  —  as  one  might 
expect  from  that  state's  apparently  superior  vividness  —  which  shows  itself 
the  deeper,  the  more  comprehensive  record? 

The  answer  of  actual  experience  to  these  questions  is  unexpectedly 
direct  and  clear.  In  every  recorded  instance  —  so  far  at  least  as  my 
memory  serves  me,  where  there  has  been  any  unification  between  alternat- 
ing states,  so  as  to  make  comparison  possible  —  it  is  the  memory  furthest 
from  waking  life  whose  span  is  the  widest,  whose  grasp  of  the  organism's 
upstored  impressions  is  the  most  profound.  Inexplicable  as  this  pheno- 
menon has  been  to  observers  who  have  encountered  it  without  the  needed 
key,  the  independent  observations  of  hundreds  of  physicians  and  hypno- 
tists have  united  in  affirming  its  reality.  The  commonest  instance,  of 
course,  is  furnished  by  the  ordinary  hypnotic  trance.  The  degree  of  intel- 
ligence, indeed,  which  finds  its  way  to  expression  in  that  trance  or  slumber 
varies  greatly  in  different  subjects  and  at  different  times.  But  when- 
soever there  is  enough  of  alertness  to  admit  of  our  forming  a  judgment,  we 
find  that  in  the  hypnotic  state  there  is  a  considerable  memory  —  though 
not  necessarily  a  complete  or  a  reasoned  memory  —  of  the  waking  state ; 
whereas  with  most  subjects  in  the  waking  state  —  unless  some  special 
command  be  imposed  upon  the  hypnotic  self  —  there  is  no  memory  what- 
ever of  the  hypnotic  state.  In  many  hysterical  conditions  also  the  same 
general  rule  subsists ;  namely,  that  the  further  we  get  from  the  surface  the 
wider  is  the  expanse  of  memory  which  we  encounter. 

If  all  this  be  true,  there  are  several  points  on  which  we  may  form 
expectations  definite  enough  to  suggest  inquiry.  Ordinary  sleep  is  roughly 
intermediate  between  waking  life  and  deep  hypnotic  trance;  and  it  seems 
a  priori  probable  that  its  memory  will  have  links  of  almost  equal  strength 
with  the  memory  which  belongs  to  waking  life  and  the  memory  which 
belongs  to  the  hypnotic  trance.  And  this  is  in  fact  the  case;  the  fragments 
of  dream-memory  are  interlinked  with  both  these  other  chains.  Thus,  for 
example,  without  any  suggestion  to  that  effect,  acts  accomplished  in  the 
hypnotic  trance  may  be  remembered  in  dream;  and  remembered  under 
the  illusion  which  was  thrown  round  them  by  the  hypnotiser.    Thus  Dr. 


SLEEP  101 

Auguste  Voisin  suggested  to  a  hypnotised  subject  to  stab  a  patient  —  really 
a  stuffed  figure  —  in  the  neighbouring  bed.1  The  subject  did  so;  and  of 
course  knew  nothing  of  it  on  waking.  But  three  days  afterwards  he  re- 
turned to  the  hospital  complaining  that  his  dreams  were  haunted  by  the 
figure  of  a  woman,  who  accused  him  of  having  stabbed  and  killed  her. 
Appropriate  suggestion  laid  this  ghost  of  a  doll. 

Conversely,  dreams  forgotten  in  waking  life  may  be  remembered  in  the 
hypnotic  trance.  Thus  Dr.  TissiS's  patient,  Albert,  dreamt  that  he  was 
about  to  set  out  on  one  of  his  somnambulic  "  fugues,"  or  aimless  journeys, 
and  when  hypnotised  mentioned  to  the  physician  this  dream,  which  in  his 
waking  state  he  had  forgotten.2  The  probable  truth  of  this  statement  was 
shown  by  the  fact  that  he  did  actually  set  out  on  the  journey  thus  dreamt 
of,  and  that  his  journeys  were  usually  preceded  and  incited  by  remem- 
bered dreams. 

I  need  not  dwell  on  the  existence,  but  at  the  same  time  the  incomplete- 
ness, of  our  dream-memory  of  waking  life ;  nor  on  the  occasional  formation 
of  a  separate  chain  of  memory,  constructed  from  successive  and  cohering 
dreams.  It  should  be  added  that  we  do  not  really  know  how  far  our 
memory  in  dream  of  waking  life  may  have  extended;  since  we  can  only 
infer  this  from  our  notoriously  imperfect  waking  memory  of  past  dreams. 

A  cognate  anticipation  to  which  our  theory  will  point  will  be  that  dream- 
memory  will  occasionally  be  found  to  fill  up  gaps  in  waking  memory, 
other  than  those  due  to  hypnotic  trance;  such  so-called  "ecmnesic"  periods, 
for  instance,  as  sometimes  succeed  a  violent  shock  to  the  system,  and  may 
even  embrace  some  space  of  time  anterior  to  the  shock.  These  periods 
themselves  resemble  prolonged  and  unremembered  dreams.  Such  acci- 
dents, however,  are  so  rare,  and  such  dream-memory  so  hard  to  detect, 
that  I  mention  the  point  mainly  for  the  sake  of  theoretical  completeness; 
and  must  think  myself  fortunate  in  being  able  to  refer  the  reader  to  a  recent 
case  of  M.  Charcot's  which  affords  an  interesting  confirmation  of  the 
suggested  view.3 

1  pass  on  to  the  still  more  novel  and  curious  questions  involved  in 
the  apparent  existence  of  a  dream-memory  which,  while  accompanying 
the  memory  of  ordinary  life,  seems  also  to  have  a  wider  purview,  and  to 

■  1  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  June  1891,  p.  302. 

2  Les  Reves,  p.  135.  This  remarkable  patient  afforded  examples  of  many  forms  of 
communication  of  memory  between  different  states  of  personality.  See  pp.  192-200 
for  a  conspectus  of  these  complex  recollections. 

3  Revue  de  Medecine,  February  1892.  A  full  account  and  discussion  of  the  same 
case  is  contained  in  Dr.  P.  Janet's  Nevroses  et  Idees  fixes,  vol.  i.  pp.  116  et  seq.  [§413]' 


102  CHAPTER   IV 

indicate  that  the  record  of  external  events  which  is  kept  within  us  is  far 
fuller  than  we  know. 

Let  us  consider  what  stages  such  a  memory  may  show. 

I.  It  may  include  events  once  known  to  the  waking  self,  but  now 
definitely  forgotten. 

II.  It  may  include  facts  which  have  fallen  within  the  sensory  field, 
but  which  have  never  been  supraliminal^  "apperceived"  or  cognised  in 
any  way.  And  thus  also  it  may  indicate  that  from  this  wider  range  of 
remembered  facts  dream-inferences  have  been  drawn;  —  which  inferences 
may  be  retrospective,  prospective,  or,  —  if  I  may  use  a  word  of  Pope's  with  a 
new  meaning,  circumspective,  —  that  is  to  say,  relating  not  to  the  past  or 
to  the  future,  but  to  the  present  condition  of  matters  beyond  the  range  of 
ordinary  perception.  It  is  plain  that  inferences  of  this  kind  (if  they  exist) 
will  be  liable  to  be  mistaken  for  direct  retrocognition,  direct  premonition, 
direct  clairvoyance;  while  yet  they  need  not  actually  prove  anything  more 
than  a  perception  on  the  part  of  the  subliminal  self  more  far-reaching,  — 
a  memory  more  stable,  —  than  is  the  perception  or  the  memory  of  the 
supraliminal  self  which  we  know. 

These  hypermnesic  dreams,  then,  may  afford  a  means  of  drawing  our 
lines  of  evidence  more  exactly;  of  relegating  some  marvellous  narratives 
to  a  realm  of  lesser  marvel,  and  at  the  same  time  of  realising  more  clearly 
what  it  is  in  the  most  advanced  cases  which  ordinary  theories  are  really 
powerless  to  explain. 

As  to  the  first  of  the  above-mentioned  categories  no  one  will  raise  any 
doubt.  It  is  a  familiar  fact  —  or  a  fact  only  sufficiently  unfamiliar  to  be 
noted  with  slight  surprise  —  that  we  occasionally  recover  in  sleep  a  memory 
which  has  wholly  dropped  out  of  waking  consciousness. 

In  such  cases  the  original  piece  of  knowledge  has  at  the  time  made  a 
definite  impress  on  the  mind,  —  has  come  well  within  the  span  of  appre- 
hension of  the  supraliminal  consciousness.  Its  reappearance  after  however 
long  an  interval  is  a  fact  to  which  there  are  already  plenty  of  parallels. 
But  the  conclusion  to  which  some  cases  seem  to  me  to  point  is  one  of  a 
much  stranger  character.  I  think  that  there  is  evidence  to  show  that  many 
facts  or  pictures  which  have  never  even  for  a  moment  come  within  the 
apprehension  of  the  supraliminal  consciousness  are  nevertheless  retained 
by  the  subliminal  memory,  and  are  occasionally  presented  in  dreams  with 
what  seems  a  definite  purpose.  I  quote  an  interesting  case  in  Appen- 
dix IV.  A.1 

1  See  also  Journal  S.P.R.,  vol.  iv.  p.  142  (October  1889),  and  Proceedings  of 
the  American  S.P.R.,  vol.  i.  No.  4,  p.  363  [415  A  and.  Bj. 


SLEEP  103 

The  same  point,  as  we  shall  hereafter  see,  is  illustrated  by  the  pheno- 
mena of  crystal- vision.  Miss  Goodrich-Freer,1  for  example,  saw  in  the 
crystal  the  announcement  of  the  death  of  a  friend;  —  a  piece  of  news 
which  certainly  had  never  been  apprehended  by  her  ordinary  conscious 
self.  On  referring  to  the  Times,  it  was  found  that  an  announcement  of 
the  death  of  some  one  of  the  same  unusual  name  was  contained  in  a  sheet 
with  which  she  had  screened  her  face  from  the  fire ;  —  so  that  the  words 
may  have  fallen  within  her  range  of  vision,  although  they  had  not  reached 
what  we  broadly  call  her  waking  mind. 

This  instance  was  of  value  from  the  strong  probability  that  the  news 
could  never  have  been  supraliminally  known  at  all;  —  since  it  was  too 
important  to  have  been  merely  glanced  at  and  forgotten. 

In  these  cases  the  dream-self  has  presented  a  significant  scene,  —  has 
chosen,  so  to  say,  from  its  gallery  of  photographs  the  special  picture 
which  the  waking  mind  desired,  —  but  has  not  needed  to  draw  any  more 
complex  inference  from  the  facts  presumably  at  its  disposal.  I  have  now 
to  deal  with  a  small  group  of  dreams  which  reason  as  well  as  remember; 
—  if  indeed  in  some  of  them  there  be  not  something  more  than  mere 
reasoning  on  facts  already  in  some  way  acquired,  —  something  which 
overpasses  the  scheme  prescribed  for  the  present  chapter. 

In  the  first  place  we  cannot  doubt  that  definite  data  already  known 
may  sometimes  be  treated  in  somnambulism  or  ordinary  dream  with  more 
than  waking  intelligence.  Such  are  the  cases  of  mathematical  problems 
solved  in  somnambulism,  or  of  the  skeletal  arrangement  discovered  by 
Agassiz  in  common  sleep  for  scattered  bones  which  had  baffled  his  waking 
skill.  I  give  in  Appendix  IV.  B.  the  striking  case  of  Professor  Hilprecht 
where  dream-intelligence  is  carried  to  its  highest  point.  Professor  Ro- 
maine  Newbold  (who  records  the  case)  is  well  versed  in  the  analysis  of 
evidence  making  for  supernormal  powers,  and  his  explanation  of  the  vision 
as  the  result  of  "  processes  of  associative  reasoning  analogous  to  those  of 
the  upper  consciousness"  must,  I  think,  be  taken  as  correct.  But  had 
the  incident  occurred  in  a  less  critical  age  of  the  world,  —  in  any 
generation,  one  may  say,  but  this,  —  how  majestic  a  proof  would  the 
phantasmal  Babylonian's  message  be  held  to  have  afforded  of  his  veritable 
co-operation  with  the  modern  savant  in  the  reconstruction  of  his  remote 
past! 

I  repeat  that  with  this  case  of  Professor  Hilprecht's  we  seem  to  have 
reached  the  utmost  intensity  of  sleep  faculty  within  the  limits  of  our  ordi- 
nary spectrum.     In  almost  every  region  of  that  spectrum  we  have  found 
1  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  v.  p.  507. 


io4  CHAPTER   IV 

that  the  sleeper's  faculty,  under  its  narrow  conditions,  shows  scattered 
signs  of  at  least  a  potential  equality  with  the  faculty  of  waking  hours. 

We  have  already  seen  this  as  regards  muscular  movements,  as  regards 
inward  vision  and  audition,  and  as  regards  memory;  and  these  last  records 
complete  the  series  by  showing  us  the  achievement  in  sleep  of  intellectual 
work  of  the  severest  order.  Coleridge's  Kubla  Khan  had  long  ago  shown 
the  world  that  a  great  poet  might  owe  his  masterpiece  to  the  obscuration 
of  waking  sense.1  And  the  very  imperfection  of  Kubla  Khan  —  the 
memory  truncated  by  an  interruption  —  may  again  remind  us  how  partial 
must  ever  be  our  waking  knowledge  of  the  achievements  of  sleep. 

May  I  not,  then,  claim  a  real  analogy  between  certain  of  the  achieve- 
ments of  sleep  and  the  achievements  of  genius  ?  In  both  there  is  the  same 
triumphant  spontaneity,  the  same  sense  of  drawing  no  longer  upon  the 
narrow  and  brief  endurance  of  nerves  and  brain,  but  upon  some  unknown 
source  exempt  from  those  limitations. 

Thus  far,  indeed,  the  sleep-faculties  which  we  have  been  considering, 
however  strangely  intensified,  have  belonged  to  the  same  class  as  the  nor- 
mal faculties  of  waking  life.  We  have  now  to  consider  whether  we  can 
detect  in  sleep  any  manifestation  of  supernormal  faculty  —  any  experience 
which  seems  to  suggest  that  man  is  a  cosmical  spirit  as  well  as  a  terrestrial 
organism,  and  is  in  some  way  in  relation  with  a  spiritual  as  well  as  with 
a  material  world.  It  will  seem,  in  this  view,  to  be  natural  that  this  com- 
merce with  a  spiritual  environment  should  be  more  perceptible  in  sleep 
than  in  waking.  The  dogma  which  my  point  of  view  thus  renders  probable 
is  perhaps,  as  a  mere  matter  of  history,  the  dogma  of  all  dogmas  which 
has  been  most  universally  believed  by  mankind. 

"Quod  semper,  quod  ubique,  quod  ab  omnibus"  —  for  how  many  narrow 
theological  propositions  have  we  not  heard  this  proud  claim  —  that  they 
have  been  believed  everywhere,  and  by  everybody,  and  in  every  age? 
Yet  what  can  approach  the  antiquity,  the  ubiquity,  the  unanimity  of  man's 
belief  in  the  wanderings  of  the  spirit  in  dream?  In  the  Stone  Age,  the 
sceptic  would  have  been  rash  indeed  who  ventured  to  contradict  it.  And 
though  I  grant  that  this  " palaeolithic  psychology"  has  gone  out  of  fashion 
for  the  last  few  centuries,  I  do  not  think  that  (in  view  of  the  telaesthetic 
evidence  now  collected)  we  can  any  longer  dismiss  as  a  mere  bizarrerie  of 
dream-imagery  the  constant  recurrence  of  the  idea  of  visiting  in  sleep  some 
distant  scene,  —  with  the  acquisition  thereby  of  new  facts  not  otherwise 
accessible. 

Starting,  then,  not  from  savage  authority,  but  from  the  evidential 

1  Caedmon's  poem  was  traditionally  said  to  have  come  to  him  in  like  fashion. 


SLEEP  105 

scrutiny  of  modern  facts,  we  shall  find,  I  think,  that  there  are  coincidences 
of  dream  with  truth  which  neither  pure  chance  nor  any  subconscious 
mentation  of  an  ordinary  kind  will  adequately  explain.  We  shall  find 
that  there  is  a  perception  of  concealed  material  objects  or  of  distant  scenes 
and  also  a  perception  of  a  communion  with  the  thoughts  and  emotions  of 
other  minds.  Both  these  phenomena  have  been  noted  sporadically  in 
many  ages  and  countries,  and  were  observed  with  serious  attention  espe- 
cially by  the  early  French  mesmerists.  The  first  group  of  phenomena 
was  called  clairvoyance  or  lucidite,  and  the  second  communication  de  pen- 
sees,  or  in  English,  thought-transference.  These  terms  are  scarcely  com- 
prehensive enough  to  satisfy  a  more  systematic  study.  The  distant  per- 
ception is  not  optical,  nor  is  it  confined  even  to  the  apparent  sense  of  sight 
alone.  It  extends  to  all  the  senses,  and  includes  also  'impressions  hardly 
referable  to  any  special  sense.  Similarly  the  communication  between 
distant  persons  is  not  a  transference  of  thought  alone,  but  of  emotion,  of 
motor  impulses,  and  of  many  impressions  not  easy  to  define.  I  ventured 
in  1882  to  suggest  the  wider  terms  telcesthesia,  sensation  at  a  distance,  and 
telepathy,  fellow-feeling  at  a  distance,  and  shall  use  these  words  in  the 
present  work.  But  I  am  far  from  assuming  that  these  terms  correspond 
with  definite  and  clearly  separated  groups  of  phenomena,  or  comprise  the 
whole  field  of  supernormal  faculty.  On  the  contrary,  I  think  it  probable 
that  the  facts  of  the  metetherial  world  are  far  more  complex  than  the  facts 
of  the  material  world;  and  the  ways  in  which  spirits  perceive  and  com- 
municate, apart  from  fleshly  organisms,  are  subtler  and  more  varied  than 
any  perception  or  communication  which  we  know. 

I  have  hinted  above  at  another  line  of  demarcation  which  the  dreamer's 
own  sensations  suggest,  —  the  distinction  between  active  psychical  excur- 
sion or  invasion  and  the  passive  reception  of  psychical  invasion  from  with- 
out. But  even  here,  as  was  also  hinted,  a  clear  line  of  division  is  hard 
to  draw.  For  whether  we  are  dealing  with  dream-perceptions  of  distant 
material  scenes,  or  of  distant  living  persons,  or  of  discarnate  spirits,  it  is 
often  impossible  for  the  dreamer  himself  to  say  either  from  what  point  he 
is  himself  observing,  or  where  the  scene  of  the  vision  is  laid. 

For  the  present  I  must  confine  myself  to  a  brief  sketch  of  some  of  the 
main  types  of  supernormal  dreams,  arranged  in  a  kind  of  ascending  order. 
I  shall  begin  with  such  dreams  as  primarily  suggest  a  kind  of  heightening 
or  extension  of  the  dreamer's  own  innate  perceptive  powers,  as  exercised 
on  the  world  around  him.  And  I  shall  end  with  dreams  which  suggest 
his  entrance  into  a  spiritual  world,  where  commerce  with  incarnate  or  dis- 
carnate spirits  is  subject  no  longer  to  the  conditions  of  earthly  thought. 


106  CHAPTER   IV 

I  begin,  then,  with  some  dreams  which  seem  to  carry  perceptive  faculty 
beyond  the  point  at  which  some  unusual  form  of  common  vision  can  be 
plausibly  suggested  in  explanation.  Mr.  Lewis's  dream  of  the  landing- 
order  (Appendix  IV.  A)  may  be  taken  as  an  instance  of  such  a  dream.1 

I  will  next  refer  to  certain  cases  where  the  sleeper  by  clairvoyant  vision 
discerns  a  scene  of  direct  interest  to  a  mind  other  than  his  own ;  —  as  the 
danger  or  death  of  some  near  friend.  Sometimes  there  is  a  flash  of  vision, 
which  seems  to  represent  correctly  the  critical  scene.  Sometimes  there 
is  what  seems  like  a  longer  gaze,  accompanied,  perhaps  by  some  sense  of 
communion  with  the  invaded  person.  And  in  some  few  cases  —  the  most 
interesting  of  all  —  the  circumstances  of  a  death  seem  to  be  symbolically 
shown  to  a  dreamer,  as  though  by  the  deceased  person,  or  by  some  intelli- 
gence connected  with  him.    (See  Mrs.  Storie's  narrative  p.  109.) 

One  of  the  best  instances  of  the  flash  of  vision  is  Canon  Warburton's, 
which  I  quote  from  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  i.  p.  338  —  a  case  whose 
remoteness  is  rendered  less  of  a  drawback  than  usual  by  the  character  of 
the  narrator  and  the  simplicity  and  definiteness  of  the  fact  attested. 

The  following  is  his  account :  — 

The  Close,  Winchester,  July  16th,  1883. 

Somewhere  about  the  year  1848  I  went  up  from  Oxford  to  stay  a  day 
or  two  with  my  brother,  Acton  Warburton,  then  a  barrister,  living  at 
10  Fish  Street,  Lincoln's  Inn.  When  I  got  to  his  chambers  I  found  a 
note  on  the  table  apologising  for  his  absence,  and  saying  that  he  had 
gone  to  a  dance  somewhere  in  the  West  End,  and  intended  to  be  home 
soon  after  one  o'clock.  Instead  of  going  to  bed,  I  dozed  in  an  armchair, 
but  started  up  wide  awake  exactly  at  one,  ejaculating  "By  Jove!  he's 
down!"  and  seeing  him  coming  out  of  a  drawing-room  into  a  brightly 
illuminated  landing,  catching  his  foot  in  the  edge  of  the  top  stair,  and 
falling  headlong,  just  saving  himself  by  his  elbows  and  hands.  (The 
house  was  one  which  I  had  never  seen,  nor  did  I  know  where  it  was.) 
Thinking  very  little  of  the  matter,  I  fell  a-doze  again  for  half  an  hour, 
and  was  awakened  by  my  brother  suddenly  coming  in  and  saying,  "  Oh, 
there  you  are!  I  have  just  had  as  narrow  an  escape  of  breaking  my  neck 
as  I  ever  had  in  my  life.  Coming  out  of  the  ballroom,  I  caught  my  foot, 
and  tumbled  full  length  down  the  stairs." 

That  is  all.  It  may  have  been  "  only  a  dream,"  but  I  always  thought 
it  must  have  been  something  more.  W.  Warburton. 

In  a  second  letter  Canon  Warburton  adds :  — 

July  20th,  1883. 
My  brother  was  hurrying  home  from  his  dance,  with  some  little  self- 
repro'ach  in  his  mind  for  not  having  been  at  his  chambers  to  receive  his 

1  The  reader  will  find  many  similar  cases  in  the  Journal  and  Proceedings  of  the 
S.P.R.     Several  are  quoted  in  Appendices  to  Section  421  in  the  unabridged  edition. 


SLEEP  107 

guest,  so  the  chances  are  that  he  was  thinking  of  me.  The  whole  scene 
was  vividly  present  to  me  at  the  moment,  but  I  did  not  note  particulars 
any  more  than  one  would  in  real  life.  The  general  impression  was  of 
a  narrow  landing  brilliantly  illuminated,  and  I  remember  verifying  the 
correctness  of  this  by  questions  at  the  time. 

This  is  my  sole  experience  of  the  kind. 

[The  last  words  are  in  answer  to  the  question  whether  he  had  had 
similar  vivid  visions  which  had  not  corresponded  with  any  real  event.] 

The  impression  here  produced  is  as  though  a  jerk  were  given  to  some 
delicate  link  connecting  the  two  brothers.  The  brother  suffering  the  crisis 
thinks  vividly  of  the  other;  and  one  can  of  course  explain  the  incident,  as 
we  did  on  its  first  publication,  as  the  endangered  man's  projection  of  the 
scene  upon  his  brother's  mind.  The  passive  dozing  brother,  on  the  other 
hand,  feels  as  though  he  were  suddenly  present  in  the  scene,  —  say  in  re- 
sponse to  some  sudden  call  from  the  brother  in  danger,  —  and  I  am  here 
bringing  into  relief  that  aspect  of  the  incident,  on  account  of  its  analogy 
with  cases  soon  to  be  quoted.  But  the  main  lesson  no  doubt  may  be  that 
no  hard  and  fast  line  can  be  drawn  between  the  two  explanations.1 

And  here  I  feel  bound  to  introduce  a  sample  of  a  certain  class  of  dreams, 

—  more  interesting,  perhaps,  and  certainly  more  perplexing  than  any; — ■ 
but  belonging  to  a  category  of  phenomena  which  at  present  I  can  make 
no  attempt  to  explain.  I  mean  precognitive  dreams ;  —  pictures  or  visions 
in  which  future  events  are  foretold  or  depicted,  generally  with  more  or  less 
of  symbolism,  —  and  generally  also  in  a  mode  so  remote  from  the  previsions 
of  our  earthly  sagacity  that  we  shall  find  ourselves  driven,  in  a  later  dis- 
cussion, to  speak  in  vague  terms  of  glimpses  into  a  cosmic  picture-gallery; 

—  or  of  scenic  representations  composed  and  offered  to  us  by  intelligences 
higher  and  more  distant  than  any  spirit  whom  we  have  known.  I  give 
in  Appendix  IV.  C  a  thoroughly  characteristic  example ;  —  characteristic 
alike  in  its  definiteness,  its  purposelessness,  its  isolated  unintelligibility. 

Dr.  Brace's  narrative,  which  I  next  give  in  Appendix  IV.  D,  written  by 
an  intelligent  man,  while  the  facts  were  yet  fresh,  seems  to  me  of  high 

1The  case  of  Mr.  Boyle,  investigated  by  Edmund  Gurney  and  printed  in 
S.P.R.  Journal,  vol.  iii.  pp.  265,  266  [§423],  is  interesting  in  this  connection.  In 
this  case  the  vision,  which  recurred  twice,  was  of  a  simple  kind,  and  might  be 
interpreted  as  an  impression  transferred  from  the  mind  of  one  waking  to  the  mind 
of  one  asleep. 

Again,  the  single  dream  which  a  man  has  noted  down  in  all  his  life  stands 
evidentially  in  almost  as  good  a  position  as  a  single  waking  hallucination.  For 
cases  of  this  kind  see  Journal  S.P.R. ,  vol.  iii.  p.  267  [§424];  ibid.  vol.  v.  p.  61 
[424  A];  ibid.  vol.  v.  p.  252  [424  C];  and  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  i.  p.  443 
U24  B]. 


io8  CHAPTER   IV 

importance.  If  we  accept  the  rest  of  his  story,  we  must,  I  think,  suppose 
that  the  sense  of  spiritual  presence  with  which  the  incident  began  was 
more  than  a  mere  subjective  fancy.  Shall  we  refer  it  to  the  murdered 
man's  wife;  —  with  whom  the  dreamer  seemed  afterwards  to  be  in  tele- 
pathic relation  ?  Or  shall  we  interpret  it  as  a  kind  of  summons  from  the 
dying  man,  drawing  on,  as  it  were,  his  friend's  spirit  to  witness  the  actual 
murder  and  the  subsequent  scene?  The  fact  that  another  friend,  in 
another  locality  apparently,  had  a  vision  of  similar  nature,  tells  somewhat 
in  favour  of  the  supposition  that  the  decedent's  spirit  was  operative  in 
both  cases ;  since  we  very  seldom  —  if  ever  —  find  an  agent  producing  an 
impression  in  two  separate  places  at  once  —  or  nearly  so  —  except  at  or 
just  after  the  moment  of  death. 

In  this  view,  the  incident  resembles  a  scene  passing  in  a  spiritual  world. 
The  dying  man  summons  his  brother-in-law;  the  brother-in-law  visits  the 
scene  of  murder,  and  there  spiritually  communicates  with  his  sister,  the 
widow,  who  is  corporeally  in  that  scene,  and  then  sees  further  details  of 
the  scene  after  death,  which  he  does  not  understand,  and  which  are  not 
explained  to  him. 

Fantastic  though  this  explanation  seems,  it  is  not  easy  to  hit  on  a  sim- 
pler one  which  will  cover  the  facts  as  stated.  Could  we  accept  it,  we 
should  have  a  kind  of  transition  between  two  groups  of  cases,  which 
although  apparently  so  different  may  form  parts  of  a  continuous  series.  I 
mean  the  cases  where  the  dreamer  visits  a  distant  scene,  and  the  cases 
where  another  spirit  visits  the  dreamer. 

Taking,  then,  Dr.  Bruce's  case  to  bridge  the  interval  between  these 
two  groups,  I  go  on  to  a  case  which  properly  belongs  to  the  second,  though 
it  still  has  much  in  common  with  the  first.  I  shall  quote  Mrs.  Storie's  nar- 
rative at  full  length  in  the  text ;  because  the  case  is,  in  my  judgment,  both 
evidentially  very  strong,  and  also,  in  the  naivete  of  its  confusion,  extremely 
suggestive  of  the  way  in  which  these  psychical  communications  are  made. 
Mrs.  Storie,  who  is  now  dead,  was,  by  the  testimony  of  Edmund  Gurney, 
Professor  Sidgwick,  and  others,  a  witness  eminently  deserving  of  trust; 
and,  besides  a  corroboration  from  her  husband  of  the  manifestation  of  a 
troubled  dream,  before  the  event  was  known,  we  have  the  actual  notes 
written  down  by  her,  as  she  informed  us,  the  day,  or  the  day  after,  the 
news  of  the  fatal  accident  arrived,  solely  for  her  own  use,  and  unmistak- 
ably reflecting  the  incoherent  impressiveness  of  the  broken  vision.  These 
notes  form  the  narrative  given  in  Phantasms  of  the  Living  (vol.  i.  p.  370) 
which  I  reproduce  here.  The  fact  that  the  deceased  brother  was  a  twin 
of  Mrs.  Storie's  adds  interest  to  the  case,  since  one  clue  (a  vague  one  as 


SLEEP  109 

yet)  to  the  causes  directing  and  determining  telepathic  communications 
lies  in  what  seems  their  exceptional  frequency  between  twins;  —  the  closest 
of  all  relations. 

Hobart  Town,  July  1874. 
On  the  evening  of  the  18th  July,  I  felt  unusually  nervous.  This 
seemed  to  begin  [with  the  occurrence  of  a  small  domestic  annoyance] 
about  half  past  eight  o'clock.  When  I  went  to  my  room  I  even  felt  as  if 
some  one  was  there.  I  fancied,  as  I  stepped  into  bed,  that  some  one 
in  thought  tried  to  stop  me.  At  2  o'clock  I  woke  from  the  following  dream. 
It  seemed  like  in  dissolving  views.  In  a  twinkle  of  light  I  saw  a  railway, 
and  the  puff  of  the  engine.  I  thought,  "  What's  going  on  up  there  ?  Trav- 
elling ?  I  wonder  if  any  of  us  are  travelling  and  I  dreaming  of  it."  Some 
one  unseen  by  me  answered,  "No;  something  quite  different  —  some- 
thing wrong."  "I  don't  like/to  look  at  these  things,"  I  said.  Then 
I  saw  behind  and  above  my  head  William's  upper  half  reclining,  eyes  and 
mouth  half  shut;  his  chest  moved  forward  convulsively,  and  he  raised  his 
right  arm.  Then  he  bent  forward,  saying,  "I  suppose  I  should  move 
out  of  this."  Then  I  saw  him  lying,  eyes  shut,  on  the  ground,  flat.  The 
chimney  of  an  engine  at  his  head.  I  called  in  excitement,  "That  will 
strike  him!"  The  some  one  answered  "Yes  —  well,  here's  what  it  was"; 
and  immediately  I  saw  William  sitting  in  the  open  air  —  faint  moonlight 
—  on  a  raised  place  sideways.  He  raised  his  right  arm,  shuddered,  and 
said,  "I  can't  go  on,  or  back,  No"  Then  he  seemed  lying  flat.  I  cried 
out,  "Oh!  Oh!"  and  others  seemed  to  echo,  "Oh!  Oh!"  He  seemed 
then  upon  his  elbow,  saying,  "Now  it  comes."  Then  as  if  struggling 
to  rise,  turned  twice  round  quickly,  saying,  "Is  it  the  train?  the  train, 
the  train"  his  right  shoulder  reverberating  as  if  struck  from  behind.  He 
fell  back  like  fainting;  his  eyes  rolled.  A  large  dark  object  came  between 
us  like  panelling  of  wood,  and  rather  in  the  dark  something  rolled  over, 
and  like  an  arm  was  thrown  up,  and  the  whole  thing  went  away  with 
a  swish.  Close  beside  me  on  the  ground  there  seemed  a  long  dark  object. 
I  called  out,  "They've  left  something  behind;  it's  like  a  man."  It  then 
raised  its  shoulders  and  head,  and  fell  down  again.  The  same  some 
one  answered,  "  Yes,  sadly."  [?  "  Yes,"  sadly.]  After  a  moment  I 
seemed  called  on  to  look  up,  and  said,  "Is  that  thing  not  away  yet?" 
Answered,  "No."  And  in  front,  in  light,  there  was  a  railway  compart- 
ment in  which  sat  Rev.  Mr.  Johnstone,  of  Echuca.  I  said,  "What's 
he   doing   there?"    Answered,   "He's   there."    A  railway   porter  went 

up  to  the  window  asking,  "Have  you  seen  any  of ."    I  caught  no 

more,  but  I  thought  he  referred  to  the  thing  left  behind.     Mr.  Johnstone 
seemed  to  answer  "No";  and  the  man  went  quickly  away  —  I  thought 
to  look  for  it.    After  all  this  the  some  one  said  close  to  me,  "Now  I'm 
going."    I  started,  and  at  once  saw 
(  a  tall  dark  figure  at  my  head  ) 

( William's  back  at  my  side.  )  He  put  his  right  hand  (in  grief)  over 
his  face,  and  the  other  almost  touching  my  shoulder,  he  crossed  in  front, 
looking  stern  and  solemn.     There  was  a  flash  from  the  eyes,  and  I  caught 


no  CHAPTER   IV 

a  glimpse  of  a  fine  pale  face  like  ushering  him  along,  and  indistinctly 
another.  I  felt  frightened,  and  called  out,  "Is  he  angry?"  "Oh,  no." 
"Is  he  going  away?"  Answered,  "Fes,"  by  the  same  some  one,  and  I 
woke  with  a  loud  sigh,  which  woke  my  husband,  who  said,  "What  is 
it?"  I  told  him  I  had  been  dreaming  "something  unpleasant"  —  named 
a  "railway,"  and  dismissed  it  all  from  my  mind  as  a  dream.  As  I  fell 
asleep  again  I  fancied  the  some  one  said,  "It's  all  gone,"  and  another 
answered,  "I'll  come  and  remind  her." 

The  news  reached  me  one  week  afterwards.  The  accident  had 
happened  to  my  brother  on  the  same  night  about  half  past  9  o'clock. 
Rev.  Mr.  Johnstone  and  his  wife  were  actually  in  the  train  which  struck 
him.  He  was  walking  along  the  line  which  is  raised  two  feet  on  a  level 
country.  He  seemed  to  have  gone  16  miles  —  must  have  been  tired 
and  sat  down  to  take  off  his  boot,  which  was  beside  him,  dozed  off  and 
was  very  likely  roused  by  the  sound  of  the  train;  76  sheep-trucks  had 
passed  without  touching  him,  but  some  wooden  projection,  likely  the  step, 
had  touched  the  right  side  of  his  head,  bruised  his  right  shoulder, 
and  killed  him  instantaneously.  The  night  was  very  dark.  I  believe 
now  that  the  some  one  was  (from  something  in  the  way  he  spoke)  William 
himself.  The  face  with  him  was  white  as  alabaster  and  something 
like  this  [a  small  sketch  pasted  on]  in  profile.  There  were  many  other 
thoughts  or  words  seemed  to  pass,  but  they  are  too  many  to  write  down 
here. 

The  voice  of  the  some  one  unseen  seemed  always  above  the  figure 
of  William  which  I  saw.  And  when  I  was  shown  the  compartment  of 
the  carriage  with  Mr.  Johnstone,  the  some  one  seemed  on  a  line  between 
me  and  it  —  above  me. 

[In  an  account-book  of  Mrs.  Storie's,  on  a  page  headed  July  1874, 
we  find  the  18th  day  marked,  and  the  words,  "Dear  Willie  died,"  and 
"Dreamed,  dreamed  of  it  all,"  appended. 

The  first  letter,  from  the  Rev.  J.  C.  Johnstone  to  the  Rev.  John  Storie, 
announcing  the  news  of  the  accident,  is  lost.  The  following  are  extracts 
from  his  second  and  third  letters  on  the  subject: — ] 

Echuca,  10th  August  1874. 
The  place  where  Hunter  was  killed  is  on  an  open  plain,  and  there 
was  consequently  plenty  of  room  for  him  to  escape  the  train  had  he  been 
conscious;  but  I  think  Meldrum's  theory  is  the  correct  one,  that  he  had 
sat  down  to  adjust  some  bandages  on  his  leg  and  had  thoughtlessly  gone 
off  to  sleep.  There  is  only  one  line  of  rails,  and  the  ground  is  raised 
about  2  feet  —  the  ground  on  which  the  rails  rest.  He  had  probably 
sat  down  on  the  edge,  and  lain  down  backwards  so  as  to  be"  within  reach 
of  some  part  of  the  train.  It  was  not  known  at  the  time  that  an  accident 
had  occurred.  Mrs.  Johnstone  and  myself  were  in  the  train.  Meldrum 
says  he  was  not  very  much  crushed.  The  top  of  the  skull  was  struck 
off,  and  some  ribs  were  broken  under  the  armpit  on  one  side.  His  body 
was  found  on  the  Sunday  morning  by  a  herd-boy  from  the  adjoining 
station. 


SLEEP  in 

August  2gth,  1874. 

The  exact  time  at  which  the  train  struck  poor  Hunter  must  have  been 
about  9.55  p.m.,  and  his  death  must  have  been  instantaneous. 

[The  above  corresponds  with  the  account  of  the  inquest  in  the 
Riverine  Herald  for  July  22nd.  The  Melbourne  Argus  also  describes 
the  accident  as  having  taken  place  on  the  night  of  Saturday,  the 
18th. 

The  following  remarks  are  taken  from  notes  made  by  Professor  Sidg- 
wick,  during  an  interview  with  Mrs.  Storie,  in  April  1884,  and  by  Mrs. 
Sidgwick  after  another  interview  in  September  1885 :  — ] 

Mrs.  Storie  cannot  regard  the  experience  exactly  as  a  dream,  though 
she  woke  up  from  it.  She  is  sure  that  it  did  not  grow  more  definite  in 
recollection  afterwards.  She  never  had  a  series  of  scenes  in  a  dream 
at  any  other  time;  and  she  has  never  had  anything  like  a  hallucination. 
They  were  introduced  by  a  voice  in  a  whisper,  not  recognised  as  her 
brother's.  He  had  sat  on  the  bank  as  he  appeared  in  the  dream.  The 
engine  she  saw  behind  him  had  a  chimney  of  peculiar  shape,  such  as 
she  had  not  at  that  time  seen;  and  she  remembers  that  Mr.  Storie  thought 
her  foolish  about  insisting  on  the  chimney  —  unlike  (he  said)  any  which 
existed;  but  he  informed  her  when  he  came  back  from  Victoria,  where 
her  brother  was,  that  engines  of  this  kind  had  just  been  introduced  there. 
She  had  no  reason  to  think  that  any  conversation  between  the  porter 
and  the  clergyman  actually  occurred.  The  persons  who  seemed  to  lead 
her  brother  away  were  not  recognised  by  her,  and  she  only  saw  the  face 
of  one  of  them. 

Mr.  Storie  confirms  his  wife  having  said  to  him  at  the  time  of  the  dream, 
"What  is  that  light?"  Before  writing  the  account  first  quoted,  she  had 
just  mentioned  the  dream  to  her  husband,  but  had  not  described  it.  She 
desired  not  to  think  of  it,  and  also  was  unwilling  to  worry  him  about  it 
because  of  his  Sunday's  work.  This  last  point,  it  will  be  observed,  is 
a  confirmation  of  the  fact  that  the  dream  took  place  on  the  Saturday 
night;  and  "it  came  out  clearly"  (Mrs.  Sidgwick  says)  "that  her  recol- 
lection about  the  Saturday  night  was  an  independent  recollection,  and 
not  read  back  after  the  accident  was  known."  The  strongly  nervous 
state  that  preceded  the  dream  was  quite  unique  in  Mrs.  S.'s  experience. 
But  as  it  appeared*  that,  according  to  her  recollection,  it  commenced  at 
least  an  hour  before  the  accident  took  place,  it  must  be  regarded  as  of 
no  importance  evidentially.  The  feeling  of  a  presence  in  the  room  was 
also  quite  unique. 

"Here,"  says  Gurney,  "the  difficulty  of  referring  the  true  elements  of 
the  dream  to  the  agent's  mind  [is  very  great].  For  Mr.  Hunter  was  asleep; 
and  even  if  we  can  conceive  that  the  image  of  the  advancing  engine  may 
have  had  some  place  in  his  mind,  the  presence  of  Mr.  Johnstone  could 
not  have  been  perceived  by  him.  But  it  is  possible,  of  course,  to  regard 
this  last  item  of  correspondence  as  accidental,  even  though  the  dream  was 
telepathic.     It  will  be  observed  that  the  dream  followed  the  accident  by 


-\ 


ii2  CHAPTER   IV 

about  four  hours;  such  deferment  is,  I  think,  a  strong  point  in  favour  of 
telepathic,  as  opposed  to  independent,  clairvoyance." 

I  propose  as  an  alternative  explanation,  —  for  reasons  which  I  en- 
deavour to  justify  in  later  chapters,  —  that  the  deceased  brother,  aided  by 
some  other  dimly  discerned  spirit,  was  endeavouring  to  present  to  Mrs. 
Storie  a  series  of  pictures  representing  his  death  —  as  realised  after  his 
death.  I  add  this  last  clause,  because  one  of  the  marked  points  in  the 
dream  was  the  presence  in  the  train  of  Mr.  Johnstone  of  Echuca  —  a  fact 
which  (as  Gurney  remarks)  the  dying  man  could  not  possibly  know. 

I  have  dwelt  on  these  two  cases  of  Dr.  Bruce  and  Mrs.  Storie,  because 
the  reader  will,  I  think,  come  to  feel,  as  our  evidence  unrolls  itself,  that  he 
has  here  complex  experiences  which  are  confirmed  at  various  points  by 
simpler  experiences,  in  such  a  way  as  to  make  these  stories  seem  a 
confused  but  an  intimate  transcript  of  what  other  narratives  show  in 
hints  and  glimpses  alone. 

In  Mrs.  Storie's  case  the  whole  experience,  as  we  have  seen,  presented 
itself  as  a  dream;  yet  as  a  dream  of  quite  unusual  type,  like  a  series  of  pic- 
tures presented  to  the  sleeper  who  was  still  conscious  that  she  was  lying 
in  bed.  In  other  cases  the  "psychical  invasion"  of  the  spirit  either  of  a 
living  or  of  a  deceased  person  seems  to  set  up  a  variety  of  sleep-waking 
states  —  both  in  agent  and  percipient.  In  one  bizarre  narrative  a  man 
dreaming  that  he  has  returned  home  is  heard  in  his  home  calling  for  hot 
water  —  and  has  himself  a  singular  sense  of  "bilocation"  between  the 
railway  carriage  and  his  bedroom.1  In  another  curious  case  is  recorded 
a  kind  of  encounter  in  dreamland,  apparently  more  or  less  remembered 
by  both  persons.2 

An  invasion  of  this  type  coming  upon  a  sleeping  person  is  apt  to  induce 
some  change  in  the  sleeper's  state,  which,  even  if  he  regards  it  as  a  com- 
plete awakening,  is  generally  shown  not  to  be  so  in  fact  by  the  dreamlike 
character  of  his  own  recorded  feelings  and  utterances.  Gurney  called 
these  "Borderland  Cases,"  and  the  whole  collection  in  Phantasms  of  the 
Living  will  repay  perusal.  I  introduce  one  such  case  in  Appendix  IV.  E, 
as  being  at  once  very  perplexing  and,  I  think,  very  strongly  attested.  I 
knew  Mr.  and  Mrs.  T.,  who  certainly  were  seriously  anxious  for  complete 

1  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  ii.  p.  105  [428  A]. 

2  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  ii.  p.  154  [428  D]. 

The  cases  of  Mrs.  Manning  (Journal  S.P.R.,  vol.  xii.  p.  100  [428  B])  and  Mr. 
Newnham  (Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  i.  p.  225  [428  C])  are  somewhat  similar. 
See  also  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  xi.  p.  444  [428  E]  and  Journal  S.P.R.,  vol.  viii. 
p.  128  [428  F]. 


SLEEP  113 

accuracy,  and  who  had  (as  the  narrative  shows)  made  a  brief  memorandum 
and  consulted  various  persons  on  the  incident  at  the  time. 

These  cases  of  invasion  by  the  spirits  of  living  persons  pass  on  into 
cases  of  invasion  by  the  dying,  the  impression  being  generally  that  of  the 
presence  of  the  visitant  in  the  percipient's  surroundings.1  Sometimes  the 
phantasm  is  seen  as  nearly  as  can  be  ascertained  at  the  time  of  death. 
But  there  is  no  perceptible  break  in  the  series  at  this  point.  Some  appear 
shortly  after  death,  but  before  the  death  is  known  to  the  percipient.  [See 
Appendix  IV.  F].  Finally,  there  are  cases  when  the  appearance  takes 
place  some  time  after  death,  but  presents  features  unknown  to  the  per- 
cipient.2 

We  have  now  briefly  reviewed  certain  phenomena  of  sleep  from  a 
standpoint  somewhat  differing  from  that  which  is  commonly  taken.  We 
have  not  (as  is  usual)  fixed  our  attention  primarily  on  the  negative  charac- 
teristics of  sleep,  or  the  extent  to  which  it  lacks  the  capacities  of  waking 
hours.  On  the  contrary,  we  have  regarded  sleep  as  an  independent  phase 
of  personality,  existing  with  as  good  a  right  as  the  waking  phase,  and 
dowered  with  imperfectly  expressed  faculties  of  its  own.  In  investigating 
those  faculties  we  have  been  in  no  wise  deterred  by  the  fact  of  the  apparent 
uselessness  of  some  of  them  for  our  waking  ends.  Useless  is  a  pre-scien- 
tific,  even  an  anti-scientific  term,  which  has  perhaps  proved  a  greater 
stumbling-block  to  research  in  psychology  than  in  any  other  science.  In 
science  the  use  of  phenomena  is  to  prove  laws,  and  the  more  bizarre  and 
trivial  the  phenomena,  the  greater  the  chance  of  their  directing  us  to  some 
law  which  has  been  overlooked  till  now.  In  reviewing  the  phenomena  of 
sleep,  then,  we  found  in  the  first  place  that  it  possesses  a  specific  recuper- 
ative energy  which  the  commonly  accepted  data  of  physiology  and  psy- 
chology cannot  explain.  We  saw  that  in  sleep  there  may  be  an  increased 
co-ordination  or  centralisation  of  muscular  control,  and  also  an  increased 
vividness  of  entencephalic  perception,  indicating  a  more  intimate  appre- 
ciation of  intra-peripheral  changes  than  is  manifest  in  waking  life.  In 
accordance  with  this  view,  we  found  that  the  dreaming  self  may  undergo 
sensory  and  emotional  experiences  apparently  more  intense  than  those 
of  vigilance,  and  may  produce  thereby  lasting  effects  upon  the  waking 
body  and  mind.  Similarly  again,  we  saw  that  that  specific  impress  on 
body  and  mind  which  we-  term  memory  may  in  sleeping  or  hypnotic  states 
be  both  wider  in  range  and  fuller  in  content  than  the  evocable  memory  of 
the  waking  day.     Nay,  not  memory   only,   but  power  of  inference,  of 

1  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  i.  p.  365;  ibid.,  p.  453  [429  A  and  B]. 

2  See,  for  example,  Journal  S.P.R.,  vol.  viii.  p.  123  [429  F]. 


ii4  CHAPTER    IV 

argument,  may  be  thus  intensified,  as  is  shown  by  the  solution  in  sleep  of 
problems  which  have  baffled  waking  effort. 

All  these  are  fragmentary  indications,  —  useless  for  practical  purposes 
if  you  will, —  of  sleeping  faculty  exercised  on  the  same  order  of  things  as 
waking  faculty,  and  with  comparable  or  even  superior  power.  But  we 
were  bound  to  push  our  inquiry  further  still  —  we  were  bound  to  ask 
whether  the  self  of  sleep  showed  any  faculty  of  a  quite  different  order  from 
that  by  which  waking  consciousness  maintains  the  activity  of  man.  We 
found  that  this  was  so  indeed;  that  there  was  evidence  that  the  sleeping 
spirit  was  susceptible  of  relations  unfettered  by  spatial  bonds;  of  telaes- 
thetic  perception  of  distant  scenes;  of  telepathic  communication  with 
distant  persons,  or  even  with  spirits  of  whom  we  can  predicate  neither 
distance  nor  nearness,  since  they  are  released  from  the  prison  of  the  flesh. 

The  inference  which  all  this  evidence  suggests  is  entirely  in  accordance 
with  the  hypothesis  on  which  my  whole  work  is  based. 

I  have  assumed  that  man  is  an  organism  informed  or  possessed  by  a 
soul.  This  view  obviously  involves  the  hypothesis  that  we  are  living  a  life 
in  two  worlds  at  once ;  a  planetary  life  in  this  material  world,  to  which  the 
organism  is  intended  to  react;  and  also  a  cosmic  life  in  that  spiritual  or 
metetherial  world,  which  is  the  native  environment  of  the  soul.  From 
that  unseen  world  the  energy  of  the  organism  needs  to  be  perpetually 
replenished.  That  replenishment  we  cannot  understand:  we  may  figure 
it  to  ourselves  as  a  protoplasmic  process;  —  as  some  relation  between 
protoplasm,  ether,  and  whatever  is  beyond  ether,  on  which  it  is  at  present 
useless  to  speculate. 

Admitting,  for  the  sake  of  argument,  these  vast  assumptions,  it  will  be 
easy  to  draw  the  further  inference  that  it  may  be  needful  that  the  soul's 
attention  should  be  frequently  withdrawn  from  the  business  of  earthly  life, 
so  as  to  pursue  with  greater  intensity  what  we  may  call  its  protoplasmic 
task,  —  the  maintenance  of  the  fundamental,  pervading  connection 
between  the  organism  and  the  spiritual  world.  Nay,  this  profounder 
condition,  as  responding  to  more  primitive,  more  fundamental  needs,  will 
itself  be  more  primitive  than  the  waking  state.  And  this  is  so:  sleep  is 
the  infant's  dominant  phase:  the  pre-natal  state  resembles  sleep  rather 
than  waking;  and  so  does  the  whole  life-condition  of  our  lowly  ancestors. 
And  as  the  sleeping  state  is  the  more  primitive,  so  also  is  it  the  more  gen- 
eralised, and  the  more  plastic.  Out  of  this  dreamy  abeyance  between  two 
worlds,  the  needs  of  the  material  world  are  constantly  developing  some 
form  of  alert  activity,  some  faculty  which  was  potential  only  until  search 
for  food  and  the  defence  against  enemies  compelled  a  closer  heed  to  "the 


SLEEP  115 

life  of  relation,"  lest  the  relation  should  become  only  that  of  victim  to 
devourer. 

We  shall  thus  have  two  phases  of  personality  developing  into  separate 
purposes  and  in  separate  directions  from  a  parent  stem.  The  waking 
personality  will  develop  external  sense  organs  and  will  fit  itself  progressively 
for  the  life  of  relation  to  the  external  world.  It  will  endeavour  to  attain 
an  ever  completer  control  over  the  resources  of  the  personality,  and  it  will 
culminate  in  what  we  term  genius  when  it  has  unified  the  subliminal  as 
far  as  possible  with  the  supraliminal  in  its  pursuit  of  deliberate  waking  ends. 

The  sleeping  personality  will  develop  in  ways  less  easy  to  foresee. 
What,  on  any  theory,  will  it  aim  at,  beyond  the  familiar  intensification  of 
recuperative  power?  We  can  only  guess,  on  my  theory,  that  its  develop- 
ment will  show  some  increasing  trace  of  the  soul's  less  exclusive  absorption 
in  the  activity  of  the  organism.  The  soul  has  withdrawn  from  the  special- 
ised material  surface  of  things  (to  use  such  poor  metaphor  as  we  can)  into 
a  realm  where  the  nature  of  the  connection  between  matter  and  spirit  — 
whether  through  the  intermediacy  of  the  ether  or  otherwise  —  is  more  pro- 
foundly discerned.  That  same  withdrawal  from  the  surface  which,  while  it 
diminishes  power  over  complex  muscular  processes,  increases  power  over 
profound  organic  processes,  may  at  the  same  time  increase  the  soul's  power 
of  operating  in  that  spiritual  world  to  which  sleep  has  drawn  it  nearer. 

On  this  view  of  sleep,  be  it  observed,  there  will  be  nothing  to  surprise 
us  in  the  possibility  of  increasing  the  proportion  of  the  sleeping  to  the 
waking  phase  of  life  by  hypnotic  suggestion.  All  we  can  say  is  that,  while 
the  soul  must  insist  on  at  least  the  minimum  quantity  of  sleep  needful  to 
keep  the  body  alive,  we  can  see  no  superior  limit  to  the  quantity  of  sleep 
which  it  may  choose  to  take,  —  the  quantity  of  attention,  that  is,  which 
it  may  choose  to  give  to  the  special  operations  of  sleep  as  compared  with 
those  of  waking  life. 

At  this  point  we  must  for  the  present  pause.  The  suggested  hypothesis 
will  indeed  cover  the  actual  facts  as  to  sleep  adduced  in  this  chapter.  But 
it  covers  them  by  virtue  of  assumptions  too  vast  to  be  accepted  without 
further  confirmation.  It  must  necessarily  be  our  duty  in  later  chapters  to 
trace  the  development  of  the  sleeping  personality  in  both  the  directions  indi- 
cated above ;  —  in  the  direction  of  organic  recuperation  through  the  hypnotic 
trance,  and  in  the  direction  of  the  soul's  independent  operation  through  that 
form  of  trance  which  leads  to  possession  and  to  ecstasy.  We  shall  begin  at 
once  in  the  next  chapter  to  trace  out  that  great  experimental  modification 
of  sleep,  from  which,  under  the  names  of  mesmerism  or  of  hypnotism, 
results  of  such  conspicuous  practical  value  have  already  been  won. 


CHAPTER  V 
HYPNOTISM 

cJfXero  d£  pdftdov,  t%  t'  dvdpwv  d/x/xara  0£\yei, 
&v  idtXei,  roi/s  5'  afire  /cat  vrvdovras  tyelpei. 

—  Homer. 

In  the  last  chapter  we  were  led  on  to  adopt  a  conception  of  sleep  which, 
whether  or  not  it  prove  ultimately  in  any  form  acceptable  by  science, 
is  at  any  rate  in  deep  congruity  with  the  evidence  brought  forward  in  this 
work.  Our  human  life,  in  this  view,  exists  and  energises,  at  the  present 
moment,  both  in  the  material  and  in  the  spiritual  world.  Human  per- 
sonality, as  it  has  developed  from  lowly  ancestors,  has  become  differen- 
tiated into  two  phases;  one  of  them  mainly  adapted  to  material  or  planetary, 
the  other  to  spiritual  or  cosmic  operation.  The  subliminal  self,  mainly 
directing  the  sleeping  phase,  is  able  either  to  rejuvenate  the  organism 
by  energy  drawn  in  from  the  spiritual  world;  —  or,  on  the  other  hand, 
temporarily  and  partially  to  relax  its  connection  with  that  organism, 
in  order  to  expatiate  in  the  exercise  of  supernormal  powers;  —  telepathy, 
telesthaesia,  ecstasy. 

Such  were  the  suggestions  of  the  evidence  as  to  dream  and  vision;  such, 
I  may  add,  will  be  seen  to  be  the  suggestions  of  spontaneous  somnambulism, 
which  has  not  yet  fallen  under  our  discussion.  Yet  claims  so  large  as  these 
demand  corroboration  from  observation  and  experiment  along  many 
different  lines  of  approach.  Some  such  corroboration  we  have,  in  antici- 
patory fashion,  already  acquired.  Discussing  in  Chapter  II.  the  various 
forms  of  disintegration  of  personality,  we  had  frequent  glimpses  of  benefi- 
cent subliminal  powers.  We  saw  the  deepest  stratum  of  the  self  inter- 
vening from  time  to  time  with  a  therapeutic  object,  or  we  caught  it  in  the 
act  of  exercising,  even  if  aimlessly  or  sporadically,  some  faculty  beyond 
supraliminal  reach.  And  we  observed,  moreover,  that  the  agency  by 
which  these  subliminal  powers  were  invoked  was  generally  the  hypnotic 
trance.  Of  the  nature  of  that  trance  I  then  said  nothing;  it  was  manifest 
only  that  here  was  some  kind  of  induced  or  artificial  somnambulism,  which 

116 


HYPNOTISM  117 

seemed  to  systematise  that  beneficial  control  of  the  organism  which  spon- 
taneous sleep-waking  states  had  exercised  in  a  fitful  way.  It  must  plainly 
be  our  business  to  understand  ab  initio  these  hypnotic  phenomena;  to  push 
as  far  as  may  be  what  seems  like  an  experimental  evolution  of  the  sleeping 
phase  of  personality. 

Let  us  suppose,  then,  that  we  are  standing  at  our  present  point,  but 
with  no  more  knowledge  of  hypnotic  phenomena  than  existed  in  the  boy- 
hood of  Mesmer.  We  shall  know  well  enough  what,  as  experimental 
psychologists,  we  desire  to  do;  but  we  shall  have  little  notion  of  how  to 
set  about  it.  We  desire  to  summon  at  our  will,  and  to  subdue  to  our  use, 
these  rarely  emergent  sleep-waking  faculties.  On  their  physical  side, 
we  desire  to  develop  their  inhibition  of  pain  and  their  reinforcement  of 
energy;  on  their  intellectual  side,  their  concentration  of  attention;  on  their 
emotional  side,  their  sense  of  freedom,  expansion,  joy.  Above  all,  we 
desire  to  get  hold  of  those  supernormal  faculties  —  telepathy  and  telaes- 
thesia  —  of  which  we  have  caught  fitful  glimpses  in  somnambulism  and 
in  dream. 

Yet  to  such  hopes  as  these  the  so-called  " experience  of  ages"  (generally 
a  very  short  and  scrappy  induction!)  will  seem  altogether  to  refuse  any 
practical  outcome.  History,  indeed,  —  with  the  wonted  vagueness  of 
history,  —  will  offer  us  a  long  series  of  stories  of  the  strange  sanative  sug- 
gestion or  influence  of  man  on  man;  —  beginning,  say,  with  David  and 
Saul,  or  with  David  and  Abishag,  and  ending  with  Valentine  Greatrakes, 
—  or  with  the  Stuarts'  last  touch  for  the  King's  evil.  But  in  knowledge 
of  how  actually  to  set  about  it,  we  should  still  be  just  on  the  level  of  the 
Seven  Sages.1 

And  now  let  the  reader  note  this  lesson  on  the  unexhausted  possibilities 
of  human  organisms  and  human  life.  Let  him  take  his  stand  at  one  of 
the  modern  centres  of  hypnotic  practice,  —  in  Professor  Bernheim's  hos- 
pital-ward, or  Dr.  van  Renterghem's  clinique;  let  him  see  the  hundreds 
of  patients  thrown  daily  into  hypnotic  trance,  in  a  few  moments,  and  as  a 
matter  of  course;  and  let  him  then  remember  that  this  process,  which  now 
seems  as  obvious  and  easy  as  giving  a  pill,  was  absolutely  unknown  not 
only  to  Galen  and  to  Celsus,  but  to  Hunter  and  to  Harvey;  and  when  at 
last  discovered  was  commonly  denounced  as  a  fraudulent  fiction,  almost 
up  to  the  present  day.  Nay,  if  one  chances  to  have  watched  as  a  boy 
some  cure  effected  in  Dr.  Elliotson's  Mesmeric  Hospital,  before  neglect 

1  Long  ago  Solon  had  said,  apparently  of  mesmeric  cure  — 
Tbv  Si  KaKcus  voicroiai.  KVKdi^evov  &pyd\£ats  re 


n8  CHAPTER   V 

and  calumny  had  closed  that  too  early  effort  for  human  good;  —  if  one 
has  seen  popular  indifference  and  professional  prejudice  check  the  new 
healing  art  for  a  generation;  —  is  not  one  likely  to  have  imbibed  a  deep 
distrust  of  all  a  priori  negations  in  the  matter  of  human  faculty;  —  of  all 
obiter  dicta  of  eminent  men  on  subjects  with  which  they  do  not  happen  to 
be  acquainted?  Would  not  one,  after  such  an  experience,  rather  choose 
(with  Darwin)  "the  fool's  experiment"  than  any  immemorial  ignorance 
which  has  stiffened  into  an  unreasoning  incredulity? 

Mesmer's  experiment  was  almost  a  "  fool's  experiment,"  and  Mesmer 
himself  was  almost  a  charlatan.  Yet  Mesmer  and  his  successors,  —  work- 
ing from  many  different  points  of  view,  and  following  many  divergent 
theories,  —  have  opened  an  ever- widening  way,  and  have  brought  us  now 
to  a  position  where  we  can  fairly  hope,  by  experiments  made  no  longer  at 
random,  to  reproduce  and  systematise  most  of  those  phenomena  of  spon- 
taneous somnambulism  which  once  seemed  to  lie  so  tantalisingly  beyond 
our  grasp. 

That  promise  is  great  indeed;  yet  it  is  well  to  begin  by  consider- 
ing precisely  how  far  it  extends.  We  must  not  suppose  that  we  shall 
at  once  be  subduing  to  our  experiment  a  central,  integrated,  reasonable 
Self. 

We  must  be  content  (at  first  at  any  rate)  if  we  can  affect  the  personality 
in  the  same  limited  way  as  hysteria  and  somnambulism  have  affected  it; 
but  yet  can  act  deliberately  and  usefully  where  these  have  acted  hurtfully 
and  at  random.  It  is  enough  to  hope  that  we  may  inhibit  pain,  as  it  is 
inhibited  for  the  hysteric ;  or  concentrate  attention,  as  it  is  concentrated  for 
the  somnambulist;  or  change  the  tastes  and  passions,  as  these  are  changed 
in  alternating  personalities;  or  (best  of  all)  recover  and  fix  something  of 
that  supernormal  faculty  of  which  we  have  caught  fugitive  glimpses  in 
vision  and  dream.  Our  proof  of  the  origination  of  any  phenomenon  in 
the  deeper  strata  of  our  being  must  lie  in  the  intrinsic  nature  of  the  faculty 
exhibited;  —  not  in  the  wisdom  of  its  actual  direction.  That  must  often 
depend  on  the  order  given  from  above  the  threshold;  just  as  the  magic  mill 
of  the  fable  continues  magical,  although,  for  lack  of  the  proper  formula  to 
stop  it,  it  be  still  grinding  out  superfluous  salt  at  the  bottom  of  the  sea. 

This  brief  introduction  will,  I  hope,  show  that  hypnotism  is  no  dis- 
connected or  extraneous  insertion  into  experimental  psychology,  but  rather 
a  summary  name  for  a  group  of  necessary,  though  empirical  and  isolated, 
attempts  to  bring  under  control  that  range  of  submerged  faculty  which 
has  already  from  time  to  time  risen  into  our  observation.  The  inquiry 
has  been  mainly  the  work  of  a  few  distinguished  men,  who  have  each 


HYPNOTISM  119 

of  them  pushed  some  useful  ideas  as  far  as  they  could,  but  whose  work 
has  not  been  adequately  supported  by  successors. 

I  should  much  doubt  whether  there  have  been  a  hundred  men  in  all 
countries  together,  at  the  ordinary  level  of  professional  intelligence,  who 
during  the  century  since  Mesmer  have  treated  hypnotism  as  the  serious 
study  of  their  lives.  Some  few  of  the  men  who  have  so  treated  it  have 
been  men  of  great  force  and  strong  convictions;  and  it  will  be  found  that 
there  has  consequently  been  a  series  of  sudden  developments  of  groups  of 
phenomena,  differing  much  from  each  other,  but  corresponding  with  the 
special  beliefs  and  desires  of  the  person  who  headed  each  movement  in 
turn.  I  will  mention  some  of  the  chief  examples,  so  as  to  show  the  sporadic 
nature  of  the  efforts  made,  and  the  great  variety  of  the  phenomena  elicited. 

The  first  name  that  must  be  mentioned  is,  of  course,  that  of  Mes- 
mer himself.  He  believed  primarily  in  a  sanative  effluence,  and  his 
method  seems  to  have  been  a  combination  of  passes,  suggestion,  and  a 
supposed  ' '  metallotherapy  "  or  "  magneto-therapy  "  —  the  celebrated 
baquet  —  which  no  doubt  was  merely  a  form  of  suggestion.  His  results, 
though  very  imperfectly  described,  seem  to  have  been  peculiar  to  himself. 
The  crise* which  many  of  his  patients  underwent  sounds  like  a  hysterical 
attack;  but  there  can  be  no  doubt  that  rapid  improvement  in  symptoms 
often  followed  it,  or  he  would  not  have  made  so  great  an  impression  on 
savants  as  well  as  on  the  fashionable  world  of  Paris.  To  Mesmer,  then, 
we  owe  the  first  conception  of  the  therapeutic  power  of  a  sudden  and  pro- 
found nervous  change.  To  Mesmer,  still  more  markedly,  we  owe  the 
doctrine  of  a  nervous  influence  or  effluence  passing  from  man  to  man,  —  a 
doctrine  which,  though  it  must  assume  a  less  exclusive  importance  than 
he  assigned  to  it,  cannot,  in  my  view,  be  altogether  ignored  or  denied. 

The  leading  figure  among  his  immediate  successors,  the  Marquis  de 
Puysegur,  seems  from  his  writings1  to  have  been  one  of  the  ablest  and  most 
candid  men  who  have  practised  mesmerism;  and  he  was  one  of  the  very 
few  who  have  conducted  experiments,  other  than  therapeutic,  on  a  large 
scale.  The  somnambulic  state  may  also  be  said  to  have  been  his  discovery; 
and  he  obtained  clairvoyance  or  telaesthesia  in  so  many  instances,  and 
recorded  them  with  so  much  of  detail,  that  it  is  hard  to  attribute  all  to  mal- 
observation,  or  even  to  telepathy  from  persons  present.  Other  observers, 
as  Bertrand,  a  physician  of  great  promise,  followed  in  the  same  track,  and 
this  brief  period  was  perhaps  the  most  fertile  in  disinterested  experiments 

1  Recherches  Physiologiques  sur  V Homme  (Paris,  181 1);  Memoires  pour  servir  a. 
VHistoire  et  a  V Establissement  du  Magnetisme  Animal;  Du  Magnetisme  Animal  con- 
sider e  dans  ses  Rapports  avec  diver ses  branches  de  la  Physique  Generale;  etc. 


120  CHAPTER    V 

that  our  subject  has  yet  known.  Much  was  then  done  in  Germany  also; 
and  there,  too,  there  is  scattered  testimony  to  supernormal  powers.1 

Next  came  the  era  of  Elliotson  in  England,  and  of  Esdaile  in  his  hos- 
pital at  Calcutta.  Their  method  lay  in  mesmeric  passes,  Elliotson's  object 
being  mostly  the  direct  cure  of  maladies,  Esdaile's  a  deep  anaesthesia, 
under  which  he  performed  hundreds  of  serious  operations.  His  success 
in  this  direction  was  absolutely  unique;  —  was  certainly  (setting  aside 
supernormal  phenomena)  the  most  extraordinary  performance  in  mes- 
meric history.  Had  not  his  achievements  been  matters  of  official  record, 
the  apparent  impossibility  of  repeating  them  would  probably  by  this  time 
have  been  held  to  have  disproved  them  altogether. 

The  next  great  step  which  hypnotism  made  was  actually  regarded  by 
Elliotson  and  his  group  as  a  hostile  demonstration.  When  Braid  dis- 
covered that  hypnosis  could  be  induced  without  passes,  the  mesmerists 
felt  that  their  theory  of  a  sanative  effluence  was  dangerously  attacked. 
And  this  was  true;  for  that  theory  has  in  fact  been  thrown  into  the  shade, 
—  too  completely  so,  in  my  opinion,  —  first  by  the  method  used  in  Braid's 
earlier  work  of  the  production  of  hypnotic  phenomena  by  means  of  the 
upward  and  inward  squint,  and  secondly,  by  the  much  wider  and  more 
important  discovery  of  the  efficacy  of  mere  suggestion,  set  forth  in  his  later 
writings.  Braid's  hypnotic  experience  differed  much  from  that  of  hyp- 
notists before  and  after  him.  His  early  method  of  the  convergent  squint 
produced  results  which  no  one  else  has  been  able  to  produce ;  and  the  state 
which  it  induced  appeared  in  his  view  to  arrest  and  dissipate  even  maladies 
of  which  neither  hypnotist  nor  patient  had  thought  as  capable  of  cure. 
But  he  afterwards  abandoned  this  method  in  favour  of  simple  verbal  sug- 
gestion, as  he  found  that  what  was  required  was  merely  to  influence  the 
ideas  of  his  patients.  He  showed  further  that  all  so-called  phrenological 
phenomena  and  the  supposed  effects  of  magnets,  metals,  etc.,  could  be 
produced  equally  well  by  suggestion.2  He  also  laid  stress  on  the  subject's 
power  both  of  resisting  the  commands  of  the  operator  and  of  inducing 
hypnotic  effects  in  himself  without  the  aid  of  an  operator.  To  my  mind 
the  most  important  novelty  brought  out  by  Braid  was  the  possibility  of 
self-hypnotisation  by  concentration  of  will.    This  inlet  into  human  faculty, 

1  See  Nasse's  Zeitschrift  fiir  Hypnotismus,  passim. 

2  This  later  work  of  Braid's  has  been  generally  overlooked,  and  his  theories  were 
stated  again  as  new  discoveries  by  recent  observers  who  ignored  what  he  had  already 
accomplished.  See  Dr.  Bramwell's  paper  on  "  James  Braid,  his  Work  and  Writings," 
in  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  xii.  pp.  127-166.  This  contains  a  complete  list  of  Braid's 
writings,  and  references  to  his  work  by  other  writers.  See  also  the  references  to  Braid's 
work  and  theories  in  Dr.  Bramwell's  Hypnotism. 


HYPNOTISM  121 

in  some  ways  the  most  important  of  all,  has  been  as  yet  but  slackly  followed. 
But  it  is  along  with  Braid's  group  of  ideas  that  I  should  place  those  of  an 
able  but  much  inferior  investigator,  Dr.  Fahnestock,  although  it  is  not 
clear  that  the  latter  knew  of  Braid's  work.  His  book,  Statuvolism,  or 
Artificial  Somnambulism  (Chicago,  1871),  has  received  less  attention  than 
it  merits ;  —  partly  perhaps  from  its  barbarous  title,  partly  from  the  cru- 
dities with  which  it  is  encumbered,  and  partly  from  the  fact  of  its  publication 
at  what  was  at  that  date  a  town  on  the  outskirts  of  civilisation.  Fahnestock 
seems  to  have  obtained  by  self-suggestion  with  healthy  persons  results  in 
some  ways  surpassing  anything  since  recorded. 

There  is  no  reason  to  doubt  these  results,  except  the  fact  that  they  have 
not  yet  been  repeated  with  equal  success;  and  my  present  purpose  is  to 
show  how  little  importance  can  as  yet  be  attached  in  the  history  of  hypnotic 
experiment  to  the  mere  absence  thus  far  of  successful  repetition. 

The  next  great  stage  was  again  strikingly  different.  It  was  mainly 
French;  the  impulse  was  given  largely  by  Professor  Charles  Richet,  whose 
work  has  proved  singularly  free  from  narrowness  or  misconception;  but 
the  movement  was  developed  in  a  special  and  a  very  unfortunate  direction 
by  Charcot  and  his  school.  It  is  a  remarkable  fact  that  although  Charcot 
was  perhaps  the  only  man  of  eminence  whose  professional  reputation  has 
ever  been  raised  by  his  dealings  with  hypnotism,  most  of  his  work  thereon 
is  now  seen  to  have  been  mistaken  and  aberrant,  —  a  mere  following  of  a 
blind  alley,  from  which  his  disciples  are  now  gradually  returning.  Char- 
cot's leading  phenomena  (as  with  several  of  his  predecessors  above  men- 
tioned) were  of  a  type  which  has  seldom  since  been  obtained.  The  once 
celebrated  "three  stages"  of  the  grand  hypnotisme  are  hardly  anywhere 
now  to  be  seen.  But  in  this  case  the  reason  is  not  that  other  hypnotists 
could  not  obtain  the  phenomena  if  they  would;  it  is  rather  (as  I  have  already 
indicated)  that  experience  has  convinced  them  that  the  sequences  and 
symptoms  on  which  Charcot  laid  stress  were  merely  very  elaborate  pro- 
ducts of  the  long-continued,  and,  so  to  say,  endemic  suggestions  of  the 
Salpetriere. 

We  come  next  to  the  movement  which  is  now  on  the  whole  dominant, 
and  to  which  the  greatest  number  of  cures  may  at  present  be  credited. 
The  school  of  Nancy  —  which  originated  with  Lie*beault,  and  which  is 
now  gradually  merging  into  a  general  consensus  of  hypnotic  practice  — 
threw  aside  more  and  more  decisively  the  supposed  "somatic  signs"  of 
Charcot,  —  the  phenomena  of  neuro-muscular  irritability  and  the  like, 
which  he  regarded  as  the  requisite  proof  of  hypnosis;  —  until  Bernheim 
boldly  affirmed  that  hypnotic  trance  was  no  more  than  sleep,  and  that 


122  CHAPTER   V 

hypnotic  suggestion  was  at  once  the  sole  cause  of  hypnotic  responsiveness 
and  yet  was  undifferentiated  from  mere  ordinary  advisory  speech.  This 
was  unfortunately  too  good  to  be  true.  Not  one  sleep  in  a  million  is  really 
hypnosis;  not  one  suggestion  in  a  million  reaches  or  influences  the  sub- 
liminal self.  If  Bernheim's  theories,  in  their  extreme  form,  were  true, 
there  would  by  this  time  have  been  no  sufferers  left  to  heal. 

What  Bernheim  has  done  is  to  cure  a  number  of  people  without  mes- 
meric passes,  and  without  any  special  predisposing  belief  on  either  side,  — ■ 
beyond  a  trust  in  his  own  power.  And  this  is  a  most  valuable  achievement, 
especially  as  showing  how  much  may  be  dispensed  with  in  hypnotic 
practice  —  to  how  simple  elements  it  may  be  reduced. 

" Hypnotic  trance,"  says  Bernheim,  in  effect,  "is  ordinary  sleep;  hyp- 
notic suggestion  is  ordinary  command.  You  tell  the  patient  to  go  to 
sleep,  and  he  goes  to  sleep;  you  tell  him  to  get  well,  and  he  gets  well  im- 
mediately." Even  thus  (one  thinks)  has  one  heard  the  conjuror  explain- 
ing "how  it's  done,"  —  with  little  resulting  hope  of  emulating  his  brilliant 
performance.  An  ordinary  command  does  not  enable  an  ordinary  man  to 
get  rid  of  his  rheumatism,  or  to  detest  the  previously  too  acceptable  taste 
of  brandy.  In  suggestion,  in  short,  there  must  needs  be  something  more 
than  a  name;  a  profound  nervous  change  must  needs  be  started  by  some 
powerful  nervous  stimulus  from  without  or  from  within.  Before  content- 
ing ourselves  with  Bernheim's  formula,  we  must  consider  yet  again  what 
change  we  want  to  effect,  and  whether  hypnotists  have  actually  used  any 
form  of  stimulus  which  was  likely  to  effect  it. 

According  to  Bernheim  we  are  all  naturally  suggestible,  and  what  we 
want  to  effect  through  suggestion  is  increased  suggestibility.  But  let  us 
get  rid  for  the  moment  of  that  oracular  word.  What  it  seems  to  mean  here 
is  mainly  a  readier  obedience  of  the  organism  to  what  we  wish  it  to  do. 
The  sleep  or  trance  with  which  hypnotism  is  popularly  identified  is  not 
essential  to  our  object,  for  the  subliminal  modifications  are  sometimes 
attained  without  any  trace  of  somnolence.  Let  us  consider,  then,  whether 
any  known  nervous  stimuli,  either  massive  or  specialised,  tend  to  induce 

—  not  mere  sleep  or  catalepsy  —  but  that  kind  of  ready  modifiability,  — 
of  responsiveness  both  in  visible  gesture  and  in  invisible  nutritive  processes, 

—  for  the  sake  of  which  hypnosis  is  in  serious  practice  induced. 

Now  of  the  external  stimuli  which  influence  the  whole  nervous  system 
the  most  conspicuous  are  narcotic  drugs.  Opium,  alcohol,  chloroform, 
cannabis  indica,  etc.,  affect  the  nerves  in  so  many  strange  ways  that  one 
might  hope  that  they  would  be  of  use  as  hypnotic  agents.  And  some 
observers  have  found  that  slight  chloroformisation  rendered  subjects  more 


HYPNOTISM  123 

suggestible.  Janet  has  cited  one  case  where  suggestibility  was  developed 
during  recovery  from  delirium  tremens.  Other  hypnotisers  (as  Bram- 
well)  have  found  chloroform  fail  to  render  patients  hypnotisable ;  and 
alcohol  is  generally  regarded  as  a  positive  hindrance  to  hypnotic  suscep- 
tibility. More  experiment  with  various  narcotics  is  much  needed;  but 
thus  far  the  scantiness  of  proof  that  narcotics  help  towards  hypnosis  goes 
rather  against  the  view  that  hypnosis  is  a  direct  physiological  sequence 
from  any  form  of  external  stimulus. 

The  apparent  resemblance,  indeed,  between  narcosis  and  hypnosis 
diminishes  on  a  closer  analysis.  A  stage  may  occur  both  in  narcotised 
and  in  hypnotised  subjects  where  there  is  incoherent,  dream-like  menta- 
tion; but  in  the  narcotised  subject  this  is  a  step  towards  inhibition  of  the 
whole  nervous  energy  —  the  highest  centres  being  paralysed  first;  whereas 
in  hypnosis  the  inhibition  of  supraliminal  faculty  seems  often  at  least  to 
be  merely  a  necessary  preliminary  to  the  liberation  of  fresh  faculty  which 
presently  manifests  itself  from  a  profounder  region  of  the  self. 

Next  take  another  group  of  massive  effects  produced  on  the  nervous  sys- 
tem by  external  stimuli ; — those  forms,  namely,  of  trance  and  cataplexy  which 
are  due  to  sudden  shock.  With  human  beings  this  phenomenon  varies  from 
actual  death  from  failure  of  heart-action,  or  paralysis,  or  stupor  attonitus  (a 
recognised  form  of  insanity),  any  of  which  may  result  from  a  mere  alarm- 
ing sight  or  unwelcome  announcement,  down  to  the  cataleptic  immobility 
of  a  Salpetriere  patient,  when  she  hears  a  sudden  stroke  on  the  gong. 

Similar  phenomena  in  certain  animals,  as  frogs,  beetles,  etc.,  are  well 
known.  It  is  doubtful,  however,  whether  any  of  these  sudden  disable- 
ments should  be  classed  as  true  hypnoses.  It  has  not,  I  think,  been  shown 
that  in  any  case  they  have  induced  any  real  responsiveness  to  control,  or 
power  of  obeying  suggestion;  unless  it  be  (as  in  some  Salpetriere  cases) 
a  form  of  suggestion  so  obvious  and  habitual  that  the  obedience  thereto 
may  be  called  part  of  the  actual  cataplexy  itself.  Thus  the  "  wax-like 
flexibility"  of  the  cataleptic,  whose  arms  remain  in  the  position  where  you 
place  them,  must  not  be  regarded  as  a  readier  obedience  to  control,  but 
rather  as  a  state  which  involves  not  a  more  but  a  less  alert  and  capable 
responsiveness  of  the  organism  to  either  external  or  internal  stimuli. 

So  with  regard  to  animals  —  crocodiles,  frogs,  and  the  like.  I  hold 
theoretically  that  animals  are  probably  hypnotisable  and  suggestible;  and 
the  records  of  Rarey's  horse-taming,  etc.,  seem  to  point  in  that  direction.1 

1  See  also  the  Zoist  (Vol.  viii.  pp.  156,  297-299)  for  cases  of  mesmerisation  of 
animals.  In  his  Therapeutique  Suggestive  f  189 1  (pp.  246-68),  Dr.  Li£beault  gives 
an  account  of  his  experiments  with  infants  [513  B  and  C], 


i24  CHAPTER   V 

But  in  the  commoner  experiments  with  frogs,  where  mere  passivity  is  pro- 
duced, the  resemblance  seems  to  extend  only  to  the  lethargic  stage  in  human 
beings,1  and  what  relation  that  lethargy  bears  to  suggestibility  is  not,  I 
think,  really  known;  although  I  shall  later  on  suggest  some  explanation 
on  psychological  grounds. 

It  seems  plain,  at  any  rate,  that  it  must  be  from  stimuli  applied  to  men 
and  not  to  animals,  and  from  stimuli  of  a  special  and  localised  rather  than 
of  a  massive  kind,  that  we  shall  have  to  learn  whatever  can  be  learnt  as  to 
the  genesis  of  the  true  hypnotic  control. 

Now  there  exists  a  way  of  inducing  hypnosis  in  some  hysterical  persons 
which  seems  intermediate  between  massive  and  localised  stimulations. 
It  is  indeed  a  local  stimulation;  but  there  seems  no  reason  beyond  some 
deep-seated  caprice  of  the  organism  why  the  special  tract  which  is  thus 
sensitive  should  have  become  developed  in  that  direction. 

I  speak  of  the  induction  of  trance  in  certain  subjects  by  pressure  upon 
so-called  hypnogenous  zones.  These  zones  form  a  curious  development  of 
hysterical  diniques.  Their  starting-point  is  the  well-known  phenomenon 
of  patches  of  anaesthesia  found  upon  hysterical  subjects  —  the  "  witch- 
marks"  of  our  ancestors. 

So  far  as  we  at  present  know,  the  situation  of  these  "marks"  is  alto- 
gether capricious.  It  does  not  apparently  depend,  that  is  to  say,  upon 
any  central  lesion,  in  the  same  way  as  do  the  "referred  pains,"  familiar 
in  deep-seated  organic  complaints,  which  manifest  themselves  by  super- 
ficial patches  of  tenderness,  explicable  by  the  distribution  of  nerve-trunks. 
The  anaesthetic  patches  are  an  example  of  what  I  have  called  the  irrational 
self-suggestions  of  the  hypnotic  stratum;  —  determined  by  dream-like 
fancies  rather  than  necessitated  by  purely  physiological  antecedents. 

Quite  in  accordance  with  this  view,  we  find  that  under  favourable  con- 
ditions —  especially  in  a  hospital  of  hysterics  —  these  anomalous  patches 
or  zones  develop  and  specialise  themselves  in  various  ways.  Under  Dr. 
Pitres  at  Bordeaux  (for  example),  we  have  zones  hysterogenes,  zones  hypno- 
genes,  zones  hypnojrenatrices,  etc. ;  that  is  to  say,  he  finds  that  pressure  on 
certain  spots  in  certain  subjects  will  bring  on  or  will  check  hysterical  ac- 
cesses, or  accesses  of  what  is  ranked  as  hypnotic  sleep.  There  is  no  doubt 
that  this  sleep  does  in  certain  subjects  follow  instantly  upon  the  pressure 
of  certain  spots,  —  constant  for  each  subject,  but  different  for  one  subject 
and  for  another; — and  this  without  any  conscious  co-operation,  or  even 
foreknowledge,  on  the  patient's  part.    Stated  thus  nakedly,  this  seems 

1  See  Dr.  Bramwell's  discussion  of  the  subject.  {Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  xii. 
P-  213)  [Si3  A]. 


HYPNOTISM  125 

the  strongest  possible  instance  of  the  induction  of  hypnosis  by  localised 
stimulus.  The  reader,  however,  will  at  once  understand  that  in  my  view 
there  is  here  no  simple  physiological  sequence  of  cause  and  effect.  I  must 
regard  the  local  pressure  as  a  mere  signal  —  an  appeal  to  the  pre-formed 
capacities  of  lawlessly  acting  centres  in  the  hypnotic  stratum.  A  scrap 
of  the  self  has  decided,  in  dreamlike  fashion,  that  pressure  on  a  certain 
point  of  the  body's  surface  shall  produce  sleep ;  —  just  as  it  has  decided 
that  pressure  on  that  same  point  or  on  some  other  point  shall  not  produce 
pain.  Self-suggestion,  and  no  mere  physiological  nexus,  is  responsible 
for  the  sleep  or  the  hysterical  access  which  follows  the  touch.  The  anaes- 
thetic patches  are  here  a  direct,  but  a  capriciously  chosen  avenue  to  the 
subliminal  being,  and  the  same  random  self-suggestiveness  which  is  re- 
sponsible for  frequent  determinations  that  hysterical  subjects  shall  not 
be  hypnotised  has  in  this  case  decided  that  they  shall  be  hypnotised,  if 
you  go  about  it  in  exactly  the  right  way. 

Next  in  order  among  forms  of  localised  stimulus  used  for  inducing 
hypnosis  may  be  placed  monotonous  stimulation,  —  to  whatever  part 
of  the  body  it  be  applied.  It  was  at  one  time  the  fashion  to  attribute 
almost  all  hypnotic  phenomena  to  this  cause,  and  Edmund  Gurney  and  I 
endeavoured  to  point  out  the  exaggeration.1  Of  this  presently;  but  first 
let  us  consider  the  few  cases  where  the  monotonous  stimulation  has  un- 
doubtedly been  of  a  kind  to  affect  the  organism  strongly.  The  late  Dr. 
Auguste  Voisin,  of  Paris,  was  perhaps  more  markedly  successful  than 
any  physician  in  producing  hypnosis  in  extreme  cases;  —  in  maniacal 
persons  especially,  whose  attention  it  seemed  impossible  to  fix.  He  often 
accomplished  this  by  holding  their  eyes  open  with  the  blepharostat,  and 
compelling  them  to  gaze,  sometimes  for  hours  together,  at  a  brilliant  elec- 
tric light.  Exhaustion  produces  tranquillity  and  an  almost  comatose  sleep 
—  in  which  the  physician  has  often  managed  to  give  suggestions  of  great 
value.  This  seems  practically  the  only  class  of  cases  where  a  directly  physio- 
logical antecedent  for  the  sleep  can  be  proved;  and  even  here  the  provable 
effect  is  rather  the  exhaustion  of  morbid  excitability  than  any  direct  induc- 
tion of  suggestibility.  This  dazzling  process  is  generally  accompanied 
with  vigorous  verbal  suggestion;  and  it  is,  of  course,  quite  possible  that  the 
patients  might  have  been  thrown  into  hypnosis  by  that  suggestion  alone, 
had  their  minds  been  capable  at  first  of  sufficient  attention  to  receive  it. 

Braid's  upward  and  inward  squint  has  an  effect  of  the  same  deadening 
kind  as  the  long  gazing  at  a  light,  and  helps  in  controlling  wandering 

1  This  view  unfortunately  dominates  Professor  M'Kendrick's  article  on  "Hyp- 
notism" in  the  Encyclopedia  Britannica. 


i26  CHAPTER   V 

attention;  but  Braid  himself  in  later  years  (as  mentioned  above)  attributed 
his  hypnotic  successes  wholly  to  suggestion. 

From  monotonous  excitations  which,  whatever  their  part  in  inducing 
hypnosis,  are,  at  any  rate,  such  as  can  sensibly  affect  the  organism,  I  come 
down  to  the  trivial  monotonies  of  watch-tickings,  "passes,"  etc.,  which 
are  still  by  a  certain  school  regarded  as  capable  of  producing  a  profound 
change  in  the  nervous  condition  of  the  person  before  whose  face  the  hyp- 
notiser's  hands  are  slowly  waved  for  ten  or  twenty  minutes.  I  regard 
this  as  a  much  exaggerated  view.  The  clock's  ticking,  for  instance,  if  it 
is  marked  at  all,  is  at  least  as  likely  to  irritate  as  to  soothe;  and  the  con- 
stant experience  of  life  shows  that  continued  monotonous  stimuli,  say  the 
throbbing  of  the  screw  at  sea,  soon  escape  notice  and  produce  no  hypnotic 
effect  at  all.  It  is  true,  indeed,  that  monotonous  rocking  sends  some  babies 
to  sleep;  but  other  babies  are  merely  irritated  by  the  process,  and  such 
soporific  effect  as  rocking  may  possess  is  probably  an  effect  on  spinal  centres 
or  on  the  semicircular  canals.  It  depends  less  on  mere  monotony  than 
on  massive  movement  of  the  whole  organism. 

I  think,  then,  that  there  is  no  real  ground  for  supposing  that  the  trivial 
degree  of  monotonous  stimulation  produced  by  passes  often  repeated 
can  induce  in  any  ordinary  physiological  manner  that  "profound  nervous 
change"  which  is  recognised  as  the  prerequisite  condition  of  any  hypnotic 
results.  I  think  that  passes  are  effectual  generally  as  mere  suggestions, 
and  must  prima  facie  be  regarded  in  that  light,  as  they  are,  in  fact,  re- 
garded by  many  experienced  hypnotisers  (as  Milne  Bramwell)  who  have 
employed  them  with  good  effect.  Afterwards,  when  reason  is  given  for 
believing  in  a  telepathic  influence  or  impact  occasionally  transmitted  from 
the  operator  to  the  subject  at  a  distance,  we  shall  consider  whether  passes 
may  represent  some  other  form  of  the  same  influence,  operating  in  close 
physical  contiguity. 

First,  however,  let  us  consider  the  point  which  we  have  now  reached. 
We  have  successively  dismissed  various  supposed  modes  of  physiologically 
inducing  hypnotic  trance.  We  stand  at  present  in  the  position  of  the 
Nancy  school;  —  we  have  found  nothing  but  suggestion  which  really 
induces  the  phenomena. 

But  on  the^other  hand  we  cannot  possibly  regard  the  word  suggestion 
as  any  real  answer  to  the  important  question  how  the  hypnotic  responsive- 
ness is  induced,  on  what  conditions  it  depends.1 

1  See  Dr.  Bramwell's  discussion  of  the  inadequacy  of  this  explanation  in  his  article 
"What  is  Hypnotism?"  in  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  xii.  p.  224,  also  in  his  book  on 
Hypnotism  pp.  337-8. 


HYPNOTISM  127 

It  must  be  remembered  that  many  of  the  results  which  follow  upon 
suggestion  are  of.  a  type  which  no  amount  of  willingness  to  follow  the 
suggestion  could  induce,  since  they  lie  quite  outside  the  voluntary  realm. 
However  disposed  a  man  may  be  to  believe  me,  however  anxious  to  please 
me,  one  does  not  see  how  that  should  enable  him,  for  instance,  to  govern 
the  morbidly-secreting  cells  in  an  eruption  of  erysipelas.  He  already 
fruitlessly  wishes  them  to  stop  their  inflammation;  the  mere  fact  of  my 
expressing  the  same  wish  can  hardly  alter  his  cellular  tissue. 

Here,  then,  we  come  to  an  important  conclusion  which  cannot  well 
be  denied,  yet  is  seldom  looked  fully  in  the  face.  Suggestion  from  without 
must  for  the  most  part  resolve  itself  into  suggestion  from  within.  Unless 
there  be  some  telepathic  or  other  supernormal  influence  at  work  between 
hypnotiser  and  patient  (which  I  shall  presently  show  ground  for  believing 
to  be  sometimes,  though  not  often,  the  case),  the  hypnotiser  can  plainly 
do  nothing  by  his  word  of  command  beyond  starting  a  train  of  thought 
which  the  patient  has  in  most  cases  started  many  times  for  himself  with 
no  result;  the  difference  being  that  now  at  last  the  patient  starts  it  again, 
and  it  has  a  result.  But  why  it  thus  succeeds  on  this  particular  occasion, 
we  simply  do  not  know.  We  cannot  predict  when  the  result  will  occur; 
still  less  can  we  bring  it  about  at  pleasure. 

Nay,  we  do  not  even  know  whether  it  might  not  be  possible  to  dispense 
altogether  with  suggestion  from  outside  in  most  of  the  cases  now  treated 
in  this  way,  and  merely  to  teach  the  patient  to  make  the  suggestions  for 
himself.  If  there  be  no  " mesmeric  effluence"  passing  from  hypnotiser 
to  patient,  the  hypnotiser  seems  little  more  than  a  mere  objet  de  luxe;  — 
a  personage  provided  simply  to  impress  the  imagination,  who  must  needs 
become  even  absurdly  useless  so  soon  as  it  is  understood  that  he  has  no 
other  function  or  power. 

Self-suggestion,  whatever  this  may  really  mean,  is 'thus  in  most  cases, 
whether  avowedly  or  not,  at  the  bottom  of  the  effect  produced.  It  has 
already  been  used  most  successfully,  and  it  will  probably  become  much 
commoner  than  it  now  is ;  —  or,  I  should  rather  say  (since  every  one  no 
doubt  suggests  to  himself  when  he  is  in  pain  that  he  would  like  the  pain 
to  cease),  I  anticipate  that  self-suggestion,  by  being  in  some  way  better 
directed,  will  become  more  effective,  and  that  the  average  of  voluntary 
power  over  the  organism  will  rise  to  a  far  higher  level  than  it  at  present 
reaches.  I  believe  that  this  is  taking  place  even  now;  and  that  certain 
schemes  of  self-suggestion,  so  to  call  them,  are  coming  into  vogue,  where 
patients  in  large  masses  are  supplied  with  effective  conceptions,  which 
they  thus  impress  repeatedly  upon  themselves  without  the  need  of  a 


128  CHAPTER   V 

hypnotiser's  attendance  on  each  occasion.  The  "  Miracles  of  Lourdes" 
and  the  cures  effected  by  "Christian  Science"  fall,  in  my  view,  under 
this  category.  We  have  here  suggestions  given  to  a  quantity  of  more 
or  less  suitable  people  en  masse,  much  as  a  platform  hypnotiser  gives  sug- 
gestions to  a  mixed  audience,  some  of  whom  may  then  be  affected  without 
individual  attention  from  himself.  The  suggestion  of  the  curative  power 
of  the  Lourdes  water,  for  instance,  is  thus  thrown  out,  partly  in  books, 
partly  by  oral  addresses;  and  a  certain  percentage  of  persons  succeed  in 
so  persuading  themselves  of  that  curative  efficacy  that  when  they  bathe 
in  the  water  they  are  actually  cured. 

These  schemes  oj  self-suggestion,  as  I  have  termed  them,  constitute 
one  of  the  most  interesting  parts  of  my  subject,  but  space  forbids  that  I 
should  enter  into  a  discussion  of  them  here.  It  is  sufficient  to  point  out 
that  in  order  to  make  self-suggestion  operative,  no  strong  belief  or  enthu- 
siasm, such  as  those  schemes  imply,  is  really  necessary.  No  recorded 
cases  of  self-suggestion,  I  think,  are  more  instructive  than  those  published 
by  Dr.  Hugh  Wingfield  in  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  v.  p.  279.  (The  paper 
was  printed  anonymously.)  Dr.  Wingfield  was  a  Demonstrator  in  Phys- 
iology in  the  University  of  Cambridge,  and  his  subjects  were  mainly 
candidates  for  the  Natural  Sciences  Tripos.  In  these  cases  there  was 
no  excitement  of  any  kind,  and  no  previous  belief.  The  phenomena 
occurred  incidentally  during  a  series  of  experiments  on  other  points,  and 
were  a  surprise  to  every  one  concerned.  The  results  achieved  were  partly 
automatic  writing  and  partly  phenomena  of  neuro-muscular  excitability; 

—  stiffening  of  the  arms,  and  so  forth.  "It  seems  probable,"  says  Dr. 
Wingfield,  "that  all  phenomena  capable  of  being  produced  by  the  sug- 
gestion of  the  hypnotiser  can  also  be  produced  by  self-suggestion  in  a 
self -suggestive  subject." 

Experiments  like  these  —  confirming  with  modern  care  the  conclusions 
reached  by  Fahnestock  and  others  at  various  points  in  hypnotic  history 

—  seem  to  me  to  open  a  new  inlet  into  human  faculty,  as  surprising  in 
its  way  as  those  first  wild  experiments  of  Mesmer  himself.  Who  would 
have  supposed  that  a  healthy  undergraduate  could  "by  an  effort  of  mind" 
throw  his  whole  body  into  a  state  of  cataleptic  rigidity,  so  that  he  could 
rest  with  his  heels  on  one  chair  and  his  head  on  another?  or  that  other 
healthy  young  men  could  "close  their  own  eyes  so  that  they  were  unable 
to  open  them,"  and  the  like?  The  trivial  character  of  these  laboratory 
experiments  makes  them  physiologically  the  more  remarkable.  There 
is  the  very  minimum  of  predisposing  conditions,  of  excited  expectation, 
or  of  external  motive  prompting  to  extraordinary  effort.     And  the  results 


HYPNOTISM  129 

are  not  subjective  merely  —  relief  of  pain  and  so  on  —  but  are  definite 
neuro-muscular  changes,  capable  (as  in  the  case  of  the  head  and  heels  on 
separate  chairs)  of  unmistakable  test. 

Yet,  important  though  these  and  similar  experiments  in  self-suggestion 
may  be,  they  do  not  solve  our  problem  as  to  the  ultimate  origin  and  dis- 
tribution of  the  faculty  thus  displayed.  We  know  no  better  with  self-sug- 
gestion than  with  suggestion  from  outside  why  it  is  that  one  man  succeeds 
where  others  fail,  or  why  a  man  who  succeeds  once  fails  in  his  next  attempt. 
Within  the  ordinary  range  of  physiolgical  explanations  nothing  (I  repeat) 
has  as  yet  been  discovered  which  can  guide  us  to  the  true  nature  or 
exciting  causes  of  this  characteristic  responsiveness  of  hypnosis.  If  we 
are  to  find  any  light,  it  must  be  in  some  direction  which  has  as  yet  been 
little  explored. 

The  hint  which  I  have  to  offer  here  involves,  I  hope,  something  more 
than  a  mere  change  of  appellation.  I  define  suggestion  as  "successful 
appeal  to  the  subliminal  self";  —  not  necessarily  to  that  self  in  its  most 
central,  most  unitary  aspect;  but  to  some  one  at  least  of  those  strata  of 
subliminal  faculty  which  I  have  in  an  earlier  chapter  described.  I  do 
not  indeed  pretend  that  my  explanation  can  enable  us  to  reduce  hyp- 
notic success  to  a  certainty.  I  cannot  say  why  the  process  should  be 
so  irregular  and  capricious;  but  I  can  show  that  this  puzzle  is  part 
and  parcel  of  a  wider  mystery;  —  of  the  obscure  relationships  and  inter- 
dependencies  of  the  supraliminal  and  the  subliminal  self.  In  split  per- 
sonalities, in  genius,  in  dreams,  in  sensory  and  motor  automatisms,  we 
find  the  same  fitfulness,  the  same  apparent  caprice. 

Leaving  perforce  this  problem  for  the  present  unsolved,  let  us  consider 
the  various  ways  in  which  this  conception  of  subliminal  operation  may 
throw  light  on  the  actual  phenomena  of  hypnotism;  —  phenomena  at 
present  scattered  in  bewildering  confusion. 

The  word  hypnotism  itself  implies  that  some  kind  of  sleep  or  trance 
is  regarded  as  its  leading  characteristic.  And  although  so-called  hypnotic 
suggestions  do  often  take  effect  in  the  waking  state,1  our  usual  test  of 
the  hypnotiser's  success  lies  in  the  slumber  —  light  or  deep — into  which 
his  subject  is  thrown.  It  is,  indeed,  a  slumber  which  admits  at  times 
of  strange  wakings  and  activities;  but  it  is  also  manifestly  profounder 
than  the  sleep  which  we  habitually  enjoy. 

If  sleep,  then,  be  the  phase  of  personality  specially  consecrated  to  sub- 
liminal operation,  it  follows  that  any  successful  appeal  to  the  subliminal 
self  will  be  likely  to  induce  some  form  of  sleep.  And  further,  if  that  form 
1  See  Dr.  B  ram  well's  Hypnotism,  p.  274. 


130  CHAPTER   V 

of  sleep  be  in  fact  not  an  inevitable  result  of  physiological  needs,  but  a 
response  to  a  psychological  appeal,  it  seems  not  unlikely  that  we 
should  be  able  to  communicate  with  it  without  interrupting  it;  —  and 
should  thus  be  able  to  guide  or  supplement  subliminal  operations,  just 
as  in  genius  the  subliminal  self  guided  or  supplemented  supraliminal 
operations. 

Now  I  hold  that  in  all  the  varied  trances,  lethargies,  sleep-waking 
states,  to  which  hypnotism  introduces  us,  we  see  the  subliminal  self  coming 
to  the  surface  in  ways  already  familiar,  and  displacing  just  so  much  of 
the  supraliminal  as  may  from  time  to  time  be  needful  for  the  performance 
of  its  own  work.  That  work,  I  say,  will  be  of  a  character  which  we  know 
already;  the  difference  is  that  what  we  have  seen  done  spontaneously  we 
now  see  done  in  response  to  our  appeal. 

Armed  with  this  simplifying  conception,  —  simplifying  in  spite  of 
its  frank  admission  of  an  underlying  mystery,  —  we  shall  find  no  added 
difficulty  in  several  points  which  have  been  the  subjects  of  eager  con- 
troversy. The  sequence  of  hypnotic  phenomena,  the  question  of  the  stages 
of  hypnotism,  is  one  of  these.  I  have  already  briefly  described  how  Char- 
cot propounded  his  three  stages  —  lethargy,  catalepsy,  somnambulism 
—  as  though  they  formed  the  inevitable  development  of  a  physiological 
law;  —  and  how  completely  this  claim  has  now  had  to  be  withdrawn. 
Other  schemes  have  been  drawn  out,  by  Liebeault,  etc.,  but  none  of  them 
seems  to  do  more  than  reflect  the  experience  of  some  one  hypnotist's  prac- 
tice. The  simplest  arrangement  is  that  of  Edmund  Gurney,  who  spoke 
only  of  an  " alert  stage"  and  a  "deep  stage"  of  hypnosis;  and  even  here 
we  cannot  say  that  either  stage  invariably  precedes  the  other.  The  alert 
stage,  which  often  came  first  with  Gurney's  subjects,  comes  last  in  Char- 
cot's scheme;  and  it  is  hardly  safe  to  say  more  than  that  hypnotism  is 
apt  to  show  a  series  of  changes  from  sleep-waking  to  lethargy  and  back 
again,  and  that  the  advanced  stages  show  more  of  subliminal  faculty  than 
the  earlier  ones.  There  is  much  significance  in  an  experiment  of  Dr. 
Jules  Janet,  who,  by  continued  "passes,"  carried  on  Wittman,  Charcot's 
leading  subject,  beyond  her  usual  somnambulic  state  into  a  new  lethargic 
state,  and  out  again  from  thence  into  a  new  sleep-waking  state  markedly 
superior  to  the  old. 

Gurney  held  the  view  that  the  main  distinction  of  kind  between  his 
"alert"  and  his  "deep"  stage  of  hypnosis  was  to  be  found  in  the  domain 
of  memory,  while  memory  also  afforded  the  means  for  distinguishing  the 
hypnotic  state  as  a  whole  from  the  normal  one.  As  a  general  rule  (though 
with  numerous  exceptions),  the  events  of  ordinary  life  are  remembered 


HYPNOTISM  131 

in  the  trance,  while  the  trance  events  are  forgotten  on  waking,  but  tend 
to  recur  to  the  memory  on  rehypnotisation.  But  the  most  interesting 
part  of  his  observations  consisted  in  showing  alternations  of  memory  in 
the  alert  and  deep  stages  of  the  trance  itself;  —  the  ideas  impressed  in 
the  one  sort  of  state  being  almost  always  forgotten  in  the  other,  and  as 
invariably  again  remembered  when  the  former  state  recurs.  {Proceedings 
S.P.R.  vol.  ii.,  pp.  61  et  seq.  [523  A].)  On  experimenting  further,  he  met 
with  a  stage  in  which  there  was  a  distinct  third  train  of  memory,  inde- 
pendent of  the  others ;  —  and  this,  of  course,  suggests  a  further  doubt  as 
to  there  being  any  fixed  number  of  stages  in  the  trance.  The  later  experi- 
ments of  Mrs.  Sidgwick  [523  B]  on  the  same  subject,  in  which  eight  or 
nine  distinct  trains  of  memory  were  found  —  each  recurring  when  the 
corresponding  stage  of  depth  of  the  trance  was  reached  —  seem  to 
show  conclusively  that  the  number  may  vary  almost  indefinitely.  We 
have  already  seen  that  in  cases  of  alternating  personalities  the  number 
of  personalities  similarly  varies,  and  the  student  who  now  follows  or 
repeats  Gurney's  experiments,  with  the  increased  knowledge  of  split 
personalities  which  recent  years  have  brought,  cannot  fail  to  be  struck 
with  the  analogies  between  Gurney's  artificial  light  and  deep  states, — 
with  their  separate  chains  of  memory,  —  and  those  morbid  alternating 
personalities,  with  their  complex  mnemonic  cleavages  and  lacunae,  with 
which  we  dealt  in  Chapter  II.  The  hypnotic  stages  are  in  fact  secondary 
or  alternating  personalities  of  very  shallow  type,  but  for  that  very  reason 
all  the  better  adapted  for  teaching  us  from  what  kinds  of  subliminal 
disaggregation  the  more  serious  splits  in  personality  take  their  rise. 

And  beneath  and  between  these  awakenings  into  limited,  partial  alert- 
ness lies  that  profound  hypnotic  trance  which  one  can  best  describe  as 
a  scientific  or  purposive  rearrangement  of  the  elements  of  sleep ;  —  a 
rearrangement  in  which  what  is  helpful  is  intensified,  what  is  merely 
hindering  or  isolating  is  removed  or  reduced.  A  man's  ordinary  sleep 
is  at  once  unstable  and  irresponsive.  You  can  wake  him  with  a  pin- 
prick, but  if  you  talk  to  him  he  will  not  hear  or  answer  you,  until  you 
rouse  him  with  the  mere  noise.  That  is  sleep  as  the  needs  of  our 
timorous  ancestors  determined  that  it  should  be. 

Hypnotic  sleep,  on  the  contrary,  is  at  once  stable  and  responsive; 
strong  in  its  resistance  to  such  stimuli  as  it  chooses  to  ignore;  ready  in 
its  accessibility  to  such  appeals  as  it  chooses  to  answer. 

Prick  or  pinch  the  hypnotised  subject,  and  although  some  stratum 
of  his  personality  may  be  aware,  in  some  fashion,  of  your  act,  the  sleep 
will  generally  remain  unbroken.     But  if  you  speak  to  him,  —  or  even 


132  CHAPTER   V 

speak  before  him,  —  then,  however  profound  his  apparent  lethargy,  there 
is  something  in  him  which  will  hear.1 

All  this  is  true  even  of  earlier  stages  of  trance.  Deeper  still  lies  the 
stage  of  highest  interest ;  —  that  sleep-waking  in  which  the  subliminal 
self  is  at  last  set  free,  —  is  at  last  able  not  only  to  receive  but  to  respond: 
when  it  begins  to  tell  us  the  secrets  of  the  sleeping  phase  of  personality, 
beginning  with  directions  as  to  the  conduct  of  the  trance  or  of  the  cure, 
and  going  on  to  who  knows  what  insight  into  who  knows  what  world 
afar? 

Without,  then,  entering  into  more  detail  as  to  the  varying  forms  which 
hypnosis  at  different  stages  may  assume,  I  have  here  traced  its  central 
characteristic ;  —  the  development,  namely,  of  the  sleeping  phase  of  per- 
sonality in  such  fashion  as  to  allow  of  some  supraliminal  guidance  of  the 
subliminal  self. 

We  have  here  a  definition  of  much  wider  purview  than  any  which 
has  been  habitually  applied  to  the  process  of  hypnotisation  or  to  the  state 
of  hypnosis.  To  test  its  validity,  to  explain  its  scope,  we  need  a  survey 
of  hypnotic  results  much  wider  in  range  than  any  enumeration  of  the  kind 
at  present  usual  in  text-books.  Regarding  hypnotic  achievements  mainly 
in  their  mental  aspects,  I  must  seek  for  some  broad  principle  of  classifica- 
tion which  on  the  one  hand  may  not  be  so  exclusively  moral  as  to  be 
physiologically  untranslatable,  —  like  the  distinction  between  vice  and 
virtue;  —  or  on  the  other  hand  so  exclusively  physiological  as  to  be 
morally  untranslatable,  —  like  the  distinction  between  cerebral  anaemia 
and  hyperemia. 

Perhaps  the  broadest  contrast  which  is  expressible  in  both  moral  and 
physiological  terms  is  the  contrast  between  check  and  stimulus,  —  between 
inhibition  and  dynamogeny.  Not,  indeed,  that  such  terms  as  check  and 
stimulus '  can  be  pressed  in  detail.  The  central  power,  —  the  ruling 
agency  within  the  man  which  gives  the  command,  —  is  no  doubt  the 
same  in  both  cases.  But  the  common  contrast  between  negative  and 
positive  exhortations,  —  "this  you  shall  not  do,"  "this  you  shall  do," 

1 1  am  inclined  to  think  that  this  is  always  the  case.  For  a  long  time  the  lethargic 
state  was  supposed  at  the  Salpetriere  to  preclude  all  knowledge  of  what  was  going  on ; 
and  I  have  heard  Charcot  speak  before  a  deeply-entranced  subject  as  if  there  were  no 
danger  of  her  gathering  hints  as  to  what  he  expected  her  to  do.  I  believe  that  his 
patients  did  subliminally  receive  such  hints,  and  work  them  out  in  their  own  hypnotic 
behaviour.  On  the  other  hand,  I  have  heard  the  late  Dr.  Auguste  Voisin,  one  of  the 
most  persistent  and  successful  of  hypnotisers,  make  suggestion  after  suggestion  to  a 
subject  apparently  almost  comatose,  —  which  suggestions,  nevertheless,  she  obeyed 
as  soon  as  she  awoke. 


HYPNOTISM  133 

—  will  help  to  give  clearness  to  our  review  of  the  influences  of  hypnotism 
in  its  bearings  on  intelligence  and  character,  —  its  psychological  efficacy. 

The  most  rudimentary  form  of  restraint  or  inhibition  lies  in  our  effort 
to  preserve  the  infant  or  young  child  from  acquiring  what  we  call  "bad 
tricks/ '  These  morbid  affections  of  motor  centres,  trifling  in  their  in- 
ception, will  sometimes  grow  until  they  are  incurable  by  any  regime  or 
medicament;  —  nay,  till  an  action  so  insignificant  as  sucking  the  thumb 
may  work  the  ruin  of  a  life. 

In  no  direction,  perhaps,  do  the  results  of  suggestion  appear  more 
inexplicable  than  here.  Nowhere  have  we  a  more  conspicuous  touching 
of  a  spring;  —  a  more  complete  achievement,  almost  in  a  single  moment, 
of  the  deliverance  which  years  of  painful  effort  have  failed  to  effect.1 

1  According  to  Dr.  Edgar  Berillon,  who  was  the  first  systematically  to  apply  the 
hypnotic  method  to  the  education  of  children  (see  his  paper,  "De  la  Suggestion  en- 
visaged au  point  de  vue  pedagogique "  in  the  Revue  de  rHypnotisme,  vol.  i.  (1887), 
p.  84),  the  percentage  of  those  who  can  be  hypnotised  is  more  than  80,  and  he  asserts 
that  suggestibility  varies  directly  as  the  intellectual  development  of  the  subject.  He 
classes  under  four  heads  the  affections  which  can  be  successfully  treated  by  hypnotic 
suggestion.     (See  the  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  July  1895.) 

(1)  Psychical  derangements  caused  by  acute  diseases;  in  particular,  insomnia, 
restlessness,  nocturnal  delirium,  incontrollable  vomiting,  incontinence  of  urine  and 
of  faeces. 

(2)  Functional  affections  connected  with  nervous  disease:  chorea,  tics,  convul- 
sions, anaesthesias,  contractures  and  hysterical  paresis,  hysterical  hiccough,  blepha- 
rospasm. 

(3)  Psychical  derangements,  such  as  habit  of  biting  nails,  precocious  impulsive 
tendencies,  nocturnal  terrors,  speaking  in  sleep,  kleptomania,  nervousness,  shyness. 

(4)  Chorea,  hysteria,  epilepsy,  or  mental  derangements  considered  as  resulting 
from  the  combination  of  several  nervous  diseases. 

Scattered  about  in  the  Revue  de  VHypnotisme  the  reader  will  find  numerous  illus- 
trative cases.  Specially  characteristic  are  those  recorded  in  the  number  for  July 
1893,  p.  n,  and  April  1895,  p.  306. 

For  reports  of  hypnotic  cure  of  onychophagy,  see  Berillon,  the  articles  already 
quoted;  Bourdon,  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  November  1895,  p.  134;  Bouffe,  Revue 
de  VHypnotisme,  September  1898,  p.  76. 

For  reports  of  hypnotic  cure  of  even  graver  habits,  see  Van  Renterghem  and  Van 
Eeden,  Psycho-Therapie,  p.  250;  Bernheim,  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  December  1891, 
a  case  in  which  the  habit  had  become  quite  automatic  and  irresistible,  and  where 
every  other  method  of  treatment  had  failed;  also  De  la  Suggestion;  Schrenck-Notzing, 
Die  Suggestions-Therapie  bet  krankhaften  Erscheinungen  des  Geschlechtssinnes;  Beril- 
lon, Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  July  1893,  pp.  12,  14,  15;  Bourdon,  Revue  de  VHypno- 
tisme, November  1895,  pp.  136,  139,  140;  Auguste  Voisin,  Revue  de  VHypnotisme, 
November  1887,  p.  151. 

For  cures  of  enuresis  noclurna,  see  Liebeault,  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  September 
1886,  p.  71;  Berillon,  Revue  ale  VHypnotisme,  June  1894,  p.  359;  Van  Renterghem 


i34  CHAPTER   V 

These  cases  stand  midway  between  ordinary  therapeutics  and  moral 
suasion.  No  one  can  here  doubt  the  importance  of  finding  the  shortest 
and  swiftest  path  to  cure.  Nor  is  there  any  reason  to  think  that  cures 
thus  obtained  are  less  complete  or  permanent  than  if  they  had  been  achieved 
by  gradual  moral  effort.  These  facts  should  be  borne  in  mind  throughout 
the  whole  series  of  the  higher  hypnotic  effects,  and  should  serve  to  dispel 
any  anxiety  as  to  the  possible  loss  of  moral  training  when  cure  is  thus 
magically  swift.  Each  of  these  effects  consists,  as  we  must  suppose,  in 
the  modification  of  some  group  of  nervous  centres;  and,  so  far  as  we  can 
tell,  that  is  just  the  same  result  which  moral  effort  made  above  the  con- 
scious threshold  more  slowly  and  painfully  attains.  This  difference,  in 
fact,  is  like  the  difference  between  results  achieved  by  diligence  and  results 
achieved  by  genius.  Something  valuable  in  the  way  of  training,  —  some 
exercise  in  patience  and  resolve,  —  no  doubt  may  be  missed  by  the  man 
who  is  "suggested"  into  sobriety;  —  in  the  same  way  as  it  was  missed 
by  the  schoolboy  Gauss,  —  writing  down  the  answers  to  problems  as  soon  as 
set,  instead  of  spending  on  them  a  diligent  hour.  But  moral  progress  is 
in  its  essence  as  limitless  as  mathematical ;  and  the  man  who  is  thus  carried 
over  rudimentary  struggles  may  still  find  plenty  of  moral  effort  in  life  to 
train  his  character  and  tax  his  resolution. 

Among  these  morbid  tricks  kleptomania  has  an  interest  of  its  own, 
on  account  of  the  frequent  doubt  whether  it  is  not  put  forward  as  a  mere 
excuse  for  pilfering.  It  may  thus  happen  that  the  cure  is  the  best  proof 
of  the  existence  of  the  disease;  and  certain  cures  indicate  that  the  impulse 

and  Van  Eeden,  Psycho-therapie.;  Paul  Farez,  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  August  1899, 
p.  53.     This  author  recommends  the  method  of  suggestion  in  normal  sleep. 

Liebeault,  in  the  Revue  de  VHypnotisme  for  January  1889,  gives  twenty-two 
cases  in  which  hypnotic  suggestion  was  used  in  the  moral  education  of  children  from 
the  age  of  fourteen  months  upwards,  with  the  aim  of  curing,  e.g.  the  habit  of  lying, 
excessive  developments  of  emotions,  such  as  fear  and  anger,  and  precocious  or  de- 
praved appetites;  and  of  improving  the  normal  faculties  of  attention  and  memory. 
He  reports  ten  cures,  eight  improvements,  and  four  failures. 

For  other  cases  of  moral  education,  see  Berillon,  De  la  suggestion  el  de  ses  applica- 
tions a  la  pedagogic  (1887);  VHypnotisme  et  VOrthopedie  morale  (1898);  Revue  de 
VHypnotisme,  December  1887,  pp.  169-180,  and  December  1897,  p.  162;  Bern- 
heim,  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  November  1886,  p.  129;  Ladame,  the  same,  June  and 
July  1887;  Voisin,  the  same,  November  1888;  De  Jong,  the  same,  September  1891; 
Bourdon,  the  same,  August  1896;  Van  Renterghem  and  Van  Eeden,  Psycho-therapie, 
p.  215.  Nervous  troubles  in  adults  have  often  been  cured  by  the  same  means. 
Thus,  in  the  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  September  1899,  p.  73,  Dr.  Vlavianos  records 
a  case  of  tic  convulsif  cured  by  hypnotic  suggestion.  Wetterstrand  has  used  the 
same  method  with  success  (Joe.  cit.,  p.  76).  See  also  Janet,  Nevroses  et  I  dees  Fixes, 
vol.  ii.,  part  ii.,  chapter  iii.,  "Les.  Tics," 


HYPNOTISM  135 

has  veritably  involved  a  morbid  excitability  of  motor  centres,  acted  on  by 
special  stimuli,  —  an  idee  fixe  with  an  immediate  outcome  in  act.1 

Many  words  and  acts  of  violence  fall  under  the  same  category,  in  cases 
where  the  impulse  to  swear  or  to  strike  has  acquired  the  unreasoning  auto- 
matic promptness  of  a  tic,  and  yet  may  be  at  once  inhibited  by  suggestion. 
Many  undesirable  impulses  in  the  realm  of  sex  are  also  capable  of  being 
thus  corrected  or  removed. 

The  stimulants  and  narcotics,  to  which  our  review  next  leads  us,  form 
a  standing  menace  to  human  virtue.  By  some  strange  accident  of  our 
development,  the  impulse  of  our  organisms  towards  certain  drugs  — 
alcohol,  opium,  and  the  like  —  is  strong  enough  to  overpower,  in  a  large 
proportion  of  mankind,  not  only  the  late-acquired  altruistic  impulses,  but 
even  the  primary  impulses  of  self-regard  and  self-preservation.  We  are 
brought  back,  one  may  almost  say,  to  the  "chimiotaxy"  of  the  lowest 
organisms,  which  arrange  themselves  inevitably  in  specific  relation  to 
oxygen,  malic  acid,  or  whatever  the  stimulus  may  be.  We  thus  experience 
in  ourselves  a  strange  conflict  between  moral  responsibility  and  mole- 
cular affinities; — the  central  will  overborne  by  dumb  unnumbered  ele- 
ments of  our  being.  With  this  condition  of  things  hypnotic  suggestion 
deals  often  in  a  curious  way.  The  suggestion  is  not  generally  felt  as  a 
strengthening  of  the  central  will.  It  resembles  rather  a  molecular  redis- 
position;  it  leaves  the  patient  indifferent  to  the  stimulus,  or  even  disgusted 
with  it.  The  man  for  whom  alcohol  has  combined  the  extremes  of  delight 
and  terror  now  lives  as  though  in  a  world  in  which  alcohol  did  not  exist 
at  all.2 

Even  for  the  slave  of  morphia  the  same  sudden  freedom  is  sometimes 
achieved.  It  has  been  said  of  victims  to  morphia-injection  that  a  cure 
means  death;  —  so  often  has  suicide  followed  on  the  distress  caused  by 
giving  up  the  drug.     But  in  certain  cases  cured  by  suggestion  it  seems 

1  See  Berillon,  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  September  1890,  p.  75,  and  February  1896, 
p.  237;  Regis,  the  same,  May  1896;  De  Jong,  the  same,  September  1891,  p.  82;  and 
Auguste  Voisin,  the  same,  November  1888,  p.  130. 

2  See  Otto  Wetterstrand,  Der  Hypnotismus  und  seine  Anwendung  in  der  prak- 
tischen  Medicin;  Georg  Ringier,  Erfolge  des  therapeutischen  Hypnotismus  in  der 
Landpraxis;  Van  Renterghem  and  Van  Eeden,  Psycho-therapie;  Auguste  Forel,  Einige 
therapeutische  Versuche  mit  dem  Hypnotismus  bei  Geisteskranken;  Lloyd  Tuckey, 
Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  January  1897,  p.  207;  Ladame,  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  No- 
vember 1887,  p.  131,  and  December  1887,  p.  165;  A.  Voisin,  Revue  de  VHypnotisme, 
vol.  ii.  (1888),  p.  69,  and  vol.  iii.  (1889),  p.  353;  Vlavianos,  Revue  de  VHypnotisme, 
June  1899,  p.  361;  Neilson,  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  vol.  vi.  (1892),  p.  17.  Berillon, 
Le  traitement  psychologique  de  UAlcoolisme.  Paris  1906.  See  also  the  works  of 
Liebeault,  Bernheim,  and  Milne  Bramwell. 


136  CHAPTER   V 

that  no  craving  whatsoever  has  persisted  after  the  sudden  disuse  of  the 
drug.  There  is  something  here  which  is  in  one  sense  profounder  than 
moral  reform.  There  is  something  which  suggests  a  spirit  within  us  less 
injured  than  we  might  have  feared  by  the  body's  degradation.  The 
morphinomaniac  character  —  the  lowest  type  of  subjection  to  a  ruling 
vice  —  disappears  from  the  personality  in  proportion  as  the  drug  is  elim- 
inated from  the  system.  The  shrinking  outcast  turns  at  once  into  the 
respectable  man.1 

But  apart  from  troubles  consequent  on  any  intelligible  instinct,  any 
discoverable  stimulus  of  pleasure,  there  are  a  multitude  of  impulses,  fears, 
imaginations,  one  or  more  of  which  may  take  possession  of  persons  not 
otherwise  apparently  unhealthy  or  hysterical,  sometimes  to  an  extent 
so  distressing  as  to  impel  to  suicide. 

Some  of  these  "phobies"  have  been  often  described  of  late  years, — 
as,  for  instance,  agoraphobia,  which  makes  a  man  dread  to  cross  an  open 
space ;  and  its  converse  claustrophobia,  which  makes  him  shrink  from  sitting 
in  a  room  with  closed  doors;  or  the  still  more  distressing  mysophobia, 
which  makes  him  constantly  uneasy  lest  he  should  have  become  dirty 
or  defiled. 

All  these  disorders  involve  a  kind  of  displacement  or  cramp  of  the 
attention;  and  for  all  of  them,  one  may  broadly  say,  hypnotic  sugges- 
tion is  the  best  and  often  the  only  cure.  Suggestion  seems  to  stimulate 
antagonistic  centres;  to  open  clogged  channels;  to  produce,  in  short, 
however  we  imagine  the  process,  a  rapid  disappearance  of  the  insistent 
notion. 

I  have  spoken  of  this  effect  as  though  it  were  mainly  to  be  valued 
intellectually,  as  a  readjustment  of  the  dislocated  attention.  But  I  must 
note  also  that  the  moral  results  may  be  as  important  here  as  in  the  cases 
of  inhibition  of  dipsomania  and  the  like,  already  mentioned.  These 
morbid  fears  which  suggestion  relieves  may  be  ruinously  degrading  to  a 
man's  character.  The  ingredients  of  antipathy,  of  jealousy,  which  they 
sometimes  contain,  may  make  him  dangerous  to  his  fellows  as  well 
as  loathsome  to   himself.     One   or  two  cases   of   the   cure   of  morbid 

1  There  are  many  instances  of  the  cure  of  morphinomania.  See  especially  the 
case  recorded  by  Dr.  Marot  in  the  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  February  1893,  on  account 
of  the  psychological  interest  of  the  patient's  own  remarks. 

Wetterstrand,  out  of  fourteen  cases,  records  eleven  cures  of  morphinomania. 
In  a  paper  in  the  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  November  1890,  he  discusses  the  benefit 
of  prolonged  hypnosis  —  causing  the  patient  to  sleep  for  a  week  or  more  at  a  time 
—  which  he  tried  in  one  case.  See  also  Voisin,  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  December 
1886,  p.  163. 


HYPNOTISM  137 

jealousy  are  to  my  mind  among  the  best  records  which  hypnotism  has 
to  show.1 

But  this  is  not  all.  The  treasure  of  memory  is  mixed  with  rubbish; 
the  caution  which  experience  has  taught  has  often  been  taught  too  well; 
philosophic  calm  has  often  frozen  into  apathy.  Plato  would  have  the  old 
men  in  his  republic  plied  well  with  wine  on  festal  days,  that  their  tongues 
might  be  unloosed  to  communicate  their  wisdom  without  reserve.  "  Ac- 
cumulated experience,"  it  has  been  said  with  much  truth  in  more  modern 
language,2  "hampers  action,  disturbs  the  logical  reaction  of  the  individual 
to  his  environment.  The  want  of  control  which  marks  the  decadence 
of  mental  power  is  [sometimes]  itself  undue  control,  a  preponderance  of 
the  secondary  over  the  primary  influences." 

Now  the  removal  of  shyness,  or  mauvaise  honte,  which  hypnotic  sug- 
gestion can  effect,  is  in  fact  a  purgation  of  memory,  —  inhibiting  the  recol- 
lection of  previous  failures,  and  setting  free  whatever  group  of  aptitudes 
is  for  the  moment  required.  Thus,  for  the  boy  called  on  to  make  an 
oration  in  a  platform  exhibition,  hypnotisation  sets  free  the  primary  in- 
stinct of  garrulity  without  the  restraining  fear  of  ridicule.  For  the  musical 
executant,  on  the  other  hand,  a  similar  suggestion  will  set  free  the  secondary 
instinct  which  the  fingers  have  acquired,  without  the  interference  of  the 
learner's  puzzled,  hesitating  thoughts. 

I  may  remark  here  (following  Gurney  and  Bramwell)  how  misleading 
a  term  is  mono-ideism  for  almost  any  hypnotic  state.  There  is  a  selection 
of  ideas  to  which  the  hypnotic  subject  will  attend,  and  there  is  a  concentra- 
tion upon  the  idea  thus  selected;  but  those  ideas  themselves  may  be  both 
complex  and  constantly  shifting,  and  indeed  this  is  just  one  of  the  ways 
in  which  the  hypnotic  trance  differs  from  the  somnambulic  —  in  which 
it  may  happen  that  only  a  relatively  small  group  of  brain-centres  are  awake 
enough  to  act.  The  somnambulic  servant-girl,  for  instance,  may  persist 
in  laying  the  tea-table,  whatever  you  say  to  her,  and  this  may  fairly  be 
called  mono-ideism;  but  the  hypnotic  subject  (as  Bramwell  has  justly 
insisted)  can  be  made  to  obey  simultaneously  a  greater  number  of  separate 
commands  than  he  could  possibly  attend  to  in  waking  life. 

From  these  inhibitions  of  memory,  —  of  attention  as  directed  to  the 
experiences  of  the  past,  —  we  pass  on  to  attention  as  directed  to  the  ex- 
periences of  the  present.  And  here  we  are  reaching  a  central  point;  we 
are  affecting  the  macula  lutea  (as  it  has  been  well  called)  of  the  mental 

1  See  Dr.  A.  Dorez,  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  May  1899,  p.  345;  and  Dr.  Bourdon, 
the  same,  November  1893,  p.  141  [557  A], 

2  Dr.  Hill,  British  Medical  Journal,  July  4th,  189 1. 


138  CHAPTER   V 

field.  Many  of  the  most  important  of  hypnotic  results  will  be  best 
described  as  modifications  of  attention. 

Any  modification  of  attention  is  of  course  likely  to  be  at  once  a  check 
and  a  stimulus ;  —  a  check  to  certain  thoughts  and  emotions,  a  stimulus 
to  others.  And  in  many  cases  it  will  be  the  dynamo  genie  aspect  of  the 
change  —  the  new  vigour  supplied  in  needed  directions  —  which  will  be 
for  us  of  greatest  interest.  Yet  from  the  inhibitive  side  also  we  have  already 
had  important  achievements  to  record.  All  these  arrests  and  destructions 
of  idees  -fixes,  of  which  so  much  has  been  said,  were  powerful  modifications 
of  attention,  although  the  limited  field  which  they  covered  made  it  simpler 
to  introduce  them  under  a  separate  heading. 

And  even  now  it  may  not  be  without  surprise  that  the  reader  finds 
described  under  the  heading  of  inhibition  oj  attention  a  phenomenon  so 
considerable  and  so  apparently  independent  as  hypnotic  suppression  of 
pain.  This  induced  analgesia  has  from  the  first  been  one  of  the  main 
triumphs  of  mesmerism  or  hypnotism.  All  have  heard  that  mesmerism 
will  stop  headaches;  —  that  you  can  have  a  tooth  out  " under  mesmerism" 
without  feeling  it.  The  rivalry  between  mesmerism  and  ether,  as  anaes- 
thetic agents  in  capital  operations,  was  a  conspicuous  fact  in  the  medical 
history  of  early  Victorian  times.  But  the  ordinary  talk,  at  any  rate  of 
that  day,  seemed  to  assume  that  if  mesmerism  produced  an  effect  at  all 
it  was  an  effect  resembling  that  produced  by  narcotics  —  a  modification 
of  the  intimate  structure  of  the  nerve  or  of  the  brain  which  rendered  them 
for  the  time  incapable  of  transmitting  or  of  feeling  painful  sensations. 
The  state  of  a  man's  nervous  system,  in  fact,  when  he  is  poisoned  by  chloro- 
form, or  stunned  by  a  blow,  or  almost  frozen  to  death,  or  nearly  drowned, 
etc.,  is  such  that  a  great  part  of  it  is  no  longer  fit  for  its  usual  work,  —  is 
no  longer  capable  of  those  prolongations  of  neurons,  or  whatever  they 
be,  which  constitute  its  specific  nervous  activity.  We  thus  get  rid  of  pain 
by  getting  rid  for  the  time  of  a  great  deal  of  other  nervous  action  as  well; 
and  we  have  to  take  care  lest  by  pushing  the  experiment  too  far  we  get 
rid  of  life  into  the  bargain.  But  on  the  other  hand,  a  man's  nervous  sys- 
tem, when  hypnotic  suggestion  has  rendered  him  incapable  of  pain,  is 
quite  as  active  and  vigorous  as  ever,  —  quite  as  capable  of  transmitting 
and  feeling  pain,  —  although  capable  also  of  inhibiting  it  altogether.  In 
a  word,  the  hypnotic  subject  is  above  instead  of  below  pain. 

To  understand  this  apparent  paradox  we  must  remind  ourselves  that 
pain  probably  originated  as  a  warning  of  danger,— a  warning  which, 
while  useful  to  active  creatures  with  miscellaneous  risks,  has  become 
only  a  mixed  advantage  to  beings  of  more  advanced  intelligence  and 


HYPNOTISM  139 

sensitivity.  There  are  many  occasions  when,  knowing  it  to  be  useless, 
we  wish  to  shut  off  pain,  to  rise  as  definitely  above  it  as  our  earliest  ancestors 
were  below  it,  or  as  the  drunken  or  narcotised  man  is  below  it.  This 
is  just  what  hypnotic  suggestion  enables  us  to  do. 

Hypnotism  attacks  the  real  origo  mali;  —  not,  indeed,  the  pressure 
on  the  tooth-nerve,  which  can  only  be  removed  by  extraction,  but  the 
representative  power  of  the  central  sensorium  which  converts  that  pressure 
for  us  into  pain.  It  diverts  attention  from  the  pain,  as  the  excitement  of 
battle  might  do;  but  diverts  it  without  any  competing  excitement  whatever. 
To  this  topic  of  influence  on  attention  we  shall  have  to  recur  again  and 
again.  For  the  present  it  may  suffice  if  I  refer  the  reader  to  a  few  cases 
—  chosen  from  among  some  thousands  where  hypnotic  practice  has  re- 
moved or  obviated  the  distress  or  anguish  till  now  unmistakably  asso- 
ciated with  various  bodily  incidents  —  from  the  extraction  of  a  tooth 
to  the  great  pain  and  peril  of  childbirth.1 

This  suppression  of  pain  has  naturally  been  treated  from  the  thera- 
peutic point  of  view,  as  an  end  in  itself;  and  neither  physician  nor  patient 
has  been  inclined  to  inquire  exactly  what  has  occurred;  —  what  physio- 
logical or  psychological  condition  has  underlain  this  great  subjective  relief. 
Yet  in  the  eye  of  experimental  psychology  the  matter  is  far  from  a  simple 
one.  We  are  bound  to  ask  what  has  been  altered.  Has  there  been  a 
total  ablation,  or  some  mere  translation  of  pain?    What  objective  change 

1  In  some  articles  in  the  Revue  Philosophique,  published  in  1886  and  1887,  Del- 
bceuf  describes  some  experiments  which  suggest  that  in  many  of  the  remarkable 
hypnotic  cures  recorded  in  the  Zoist  (as  well  as  in  modern  cases)  the  removal  of  pain 
was  probably  an  important  element  in  the  cure;  see  e.g.  cures  of  inflammation  {Zoist, 
vol.  x.  p.  347);  of  neuralgia  and  chronic  rheumatism  (vol.  ix.  pp.  76-79);  of  abdom- 
inal pains  (vol.  ix.  p.  155);  of  tic  douloureux  (vol.  viii.  p.  186);  of  severe  headaches 
(vol.  x.  p.  369);  of  eczema  impetiginodes  (vol.  x.  p.  96). 

The  general  subject  of  hypnotic  analgesia  is  strikingly  illustrated  by  Esdaile's 
well-known  work  in  the  Indian  hospitals;  see  his  books,  Mesmerism  in  India  (London, 
1846);  The  Introduction  of  Mesmerism  with  Sanction  0}  Government  into  the  Public 
Hospitals  of  India  (2nd  edit.  London,  1856);  Natural  and  Mesmeric  Clairvoyance 
(London,  1852);  and  constant  references  to  him  in  the  Zoist. 

For  later  cases  see  British  Medical  Journal,  April  5th,  1890,  p.  801;  the  same, 
February  28th,  1891,  pp.  460-468. 

See  also  Van  Renterghem  and  Van  Eeden's  Psycho-therapie,  pp.  262-280. 

See  also  the  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  xii.  p.  21,  and  the  Revue  de  VHypnotisme, 
November  1891,  p.  132;  the  same,  1895,  p.  300;  and  for  the  discussion  of  a  very  inter- 
esting recent  case  of  the  cure  of  sycosis  menti,  see  Berillon,  Revue  de  VHypnotisme, 
January  1896,  p.  195;  Delboeuf,  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  February  1896,  p.  225;  Durand 
(de  Gros),  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  1896,  p.  37.  It  was  also  quoted  in  the  British 
Medical  Journal  for  November  16th,  1895. 


i4o  CHAPTER   V 

on  the  bodily  side  has  occurred  in  nerve  or  tissue?  and,  on  the  mental 
side,  how  far  does  the  change  in  consciousness  extend?  How  deep  does 
it  go?    Does  any  subliminal  knowledge  of  the  pain  persist? 

The  very  imperfect  answers  which  can  at  present  be  given  to  these 
questions  may,  at  any  rate,  suggest  directions  for  further  inquiry. 

(i)  In  the  first  place,  it  seems  clear  that  when  pain  is  inhibited  in  any 
but  the  most  simple  cases,  a  certain  group  of  changes  is  produced  whose 
nexus  is  psychological  rather  than  physiological.  That  is  to  say,  one 
suggestion  seems  to  relieve  at  once  all  the  symptoms  which  form  one  idea 
of  pain  or  distress  in  the  patient's  mind;  while  another  suggestion  is  often 
needed  to  remove  some  remaining  symptom,  which  the  patient  regards 
as  a  different  trouble  altogether.  The  suggestion  thus  differs  both  from 
a  specific  remedy,  which  might  relieve  a  specific  symptom,  and  from  a 
general  narcotisation,  which  would  relieve  all  symptoms  equally.  In 
making  suggestions,  moreover,  the  hypnotiser  finds  that  he  has  to  con- 
sider and  meet  the  patient's  own  subjective  feelings,  describing  the  intended 
relief  as  the  patient  wishes  it  to  be  described,  and  not  attempting  tech- 
nical language  which  the  patient  could  not  follow.  In  a  word,  it  is  plain 
that  in  this  class,  as  in  other  classes  of  suggestion,  we  are  addressing  our- 
selves to  a  mind,  an  intelligence,  which  can  of  itself  select  and  combine, 
and  not  merely  to  a  tissue  or  a  gland  responsive  in  a  merely  automatic  way. 

(2)  It  will  not  then  surprise  us  if,  —  pain  being  thus  treated  as  a  psycho- 
logical entity,  —  there  shall  prove  to  be  a  certain  psychological  complexity 
in  the  response  to  analgesic  suggestion. 

By  this  I  mean  that  there  are  occasional  indications  that  some  memory 
of  the  pain,  say,  of  an  operation  has  persisted  in  some  stratum  of  the  per- 
sonality;—  thus  apparently  indicating  that  there  was  somewhere  an 
actual  consciousness  of  the  pain  when  the  operation  was  performed.1  We 
find  accounts  of  the  revival  of  pain  in  dreams  after  operations  performed 
under  chloroform.2 

(3)  Such  experiences,  if  more  frequent,  might  tempt  us  to  suppose 
that  the  pain  is  not  wholly  abrogated,  but  merely  translated  to  some  stratum 
of  consciousness  whose  experiences  do  not  enter  into  our  habitual  chain 
of  memories.  Yet  we  possess  (strangely  enough)  what  seems  direct  evi- 
dence that  the  profoundest  organic  substratum  of  our  being  is  by  suggestion 
wholly  freed  from  pain.  It  had  long  been  observed  that  recoveries  from 
operations  performed  in  hypnotic  trance  were  unusually  benign; —  there 
being  less  tendency  to  inflammation  than  when  the  patient  had  felt  the 

1  See  the  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  August  1887. 

2  See  the  Journal  S.P.R.,  vol.  vi.  p.  209  [535  A]. 


HYPNOTISM  141 

knife.  The  same  observation  —  perhaps  in  a  less  marked  degree  —  has 
since  been  made  as  to  operations  under  chemical  anaesthesia.  The  shock 
to  the  system,  and  the  irritation  to  the  special  parts  affected,  are  greatly 
diminished  by  chloroform.  And  more  recently  Professor  Delbceuf,  by 
an  experiment  of  great  delicacy  on  two  symmetrical  wounds,  of  which 
one  was  rendered  painless  by  suggestion,  has  distinctly  demonstrated 
that  pain  tends  to  induce  and  keep  up  inflammation.1 

Thus  it  seems  that  pain  is  abrogated  at  once  on  the  highest  and  on 
the  lowest  level  of  consciousness;  yet  possibly  in  some  cases  (though  not 
usually2)  persists  obscurely  in  some  stratum  of  our  personality  into  which 
we  gain  only  occasional  and  indirect  glimpses.  And  if  indeed  this  be  so, 
it  need  in  no  way  surprise  us.  We  need  to  remember  at  every  point  that 
we  have  no  reason  whatever  to  suppose  that  we  are  cognisant  of  all  the 
trains  of  consciousness,  or  chains  of  memory,  which  are  weaving  them- 
selves within  us.  I  shall  never  attain  on  earth  —  perhaps  I  never  shall 
in  any  world  attain  —  to  any  complete  conspectus  of  the  variously  inter- 
woven streams  of  vitality  which  are,  in  fact,  obscurely  present  in  my 
conception  of  myself. 

It  is  to  hypnotism  in  the  first  place  that  we  may  look  for  an  increased 
power  of  analysis  of  these  intercurrent  streams,  these  irregularly  super- 
posed strata  of  our  psychical  being.  In  the  meantime,  this  power  of 
inhibiting  almost  any  fraction  of  our  habitual  consciousness  at  pleasure 
gives  for  the  first  time  to  the  ordinary  man  —  if  only  he  be  a  suggestible 
subject  —  a  power  of  concentration,  of  choice  in  the  exercise  of  faculty, 
such  as  up  till  now  only  the  most  powerful  spirits  —  a  Newton  or  an 
Archimedes  —  have  been  able  to  exert. 

The  man  who  sits  down  in  his  study  to  write  or  read,  —  in  perfect 
safety  and  intent  on  his  work,  —  continues  nevertheless  to  be  involun- 
tarily and  inevitably  armed  with  all  that  alertness  to  external  sights  and 
sounds,  and  all  that  sensibility  to  pain,  which  protected  his  lowly  ancestors 
at  different  stages  of  even  pre-human  development.  It  is  much  as  though 
he  were  forced  to  carry  about  with  him  all  the  external  defences  which 
his  forefathers  have  invented  for  their  defence ;  —  to  sit  at  his  writing- 
table  clad  in  chain-mail  and  a  respirator,  and  grasping  an  umbrella  and 
a  boomerang.  Let  him  learn,  if  he  can,  inwardly  as  well  as  outwardly, 
to  get  rid  of  all  that,  to  keep  at  his  command  -only  the  half  of  his  faculties 
which  for  his  purpose  is  worth  more  than  the  whole.  Dissociation  and 
choice;  —  dissociation   between    elements    which    have    always    hitherto 

1  See  the  Revue  Philosophique,  1886. 

2  See  the  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  xii.  p.  193  [535  B]. 


H2  CHAPTER   V 

seemed  inextricably  knit; — choice  between  faculties  which  till  now  we  have 
had  to  use  all  together  or  not  at  all;  —  such  is  the  promise,  such  is  the  incipi- 
ent performance  of  hypnotic  plasticity  in  its  aspect  of  inhibitive  suggestion. 

I  come  now  to  the  division  of  hypnotic  achievement  with  which  I  next 
proposed  to  deal,  namely,  the  dynamogenic  results  of  hypnotic  suggestion. 
These  I  shall  arrange  in  an  order  resembling  that  which  we  try  to  follow 
in  education:  —  proceeding  from  external  senses  to  internal  sensory  and 
other  central  operations;  and  thence  again  to  attention  and  will,  and  so 
to  character  which  is  a  kind  of  resultant  of  all  these. 

I  will  begin,  then,  with  what  seems  the  most  external  and  measurable  of 
these  different  influences  —  the  influence,  namely,  of  suggestion  upon  man's 
perceptive  faculties; — its  power  to  educate  his  external  organs  of  sense. 

This  wide  subject  is  almost  untouched  as  yet;  and  there  is  no  direction 
in  which  one  could  be  more  confident  of  interesting  results  from  further 
experiment. 

The  exposition  falls  naturally  into  three  parts,  as  suggestion  effects 
one  or  other  of  the  three  following  objects: 

(i)  Restoration  of  ordinary  senses  from  some  deficient  condition. 

(2)  Vivification  of  ordinary  senses;  —  hyperaesthesiae. 

(3)  Development  of  new  senses;  —  heteraesthesiae. 

(1)  The  first  of  these  three  headings  seems  at  first  sight  to  belong  to 
therapeutics  rather  than  to  psychology.  It  is,  however,  indispensable 
as  a  preliminary  to  the  other  two  heads ;  since  by  learning  how  and  to  what 
extent  suggestion  can  repair  defective  senses  we  have  the  best  chance  of 
guessing  at  its  modus  operandi  when  it  seems  to  excite  the  healthy  senses 
to  a  point  beyond  their  normal  powers.1 

Two  points  may  be  mentioned  here.  Improvement  of  vision  seems 
sometimes  to  result  from  relaxation  of  an  involuntary  ciliary  spasm,  which 
habitually  over-corrects  some  defect  of  the  lens.  This  is  interesting, 
from  the  analogy  thus  shown  in  quite  healthy  persons  to  the  fixed  ideas, 
the  subliminal  errors  and  fancies  characteristics  of  hysteria.  The  stratum 
of  self  whose  business  it  is  to  correct  the  mechanical  defect  of  the  eye  has 
in  these  instances  done  so  amiss,  and  cannot  set  itself  right.  The  cor- 
rected form  of  vision  is  as  defective  as  the  form  of  vision  which  it  replaced. 
But  if  the  state  of  trance  be  induced,  or  if  it  occur  spontaneously,  it  some- 
times happens  that  the  error  is  suddenly  righted;  the  patient  lays  aside 
spectacles;  and  since  we  must  assume  that  the  original  defect  of  mechanism 

1  For  cases  bearing  on  this  subject  see  Dr.  Liebeault's  Therapeutique  Suggestive, 
pp.  64  et  seq.;  the  Revue  de  I'Hypnotisme,  January  1893;  and  Proceedings  S.P.R., 
vol.  xii.  p.  177  [538  A  and  B]. 


HYPNOTISM  143 

remains,  it  seems  that  that  defect  is  now  perfectly  instead  of  imperfectly 
met.  This  shows  a  subliminal  adjusting  power  operating  during  trance 
more  intelligently  than  the  supraliminal  intelligence  had  been  able  to 
operate  during  waking  life. 

Another  point  of  interest  lies  in  the  effect  of  increased  attention,  as 
stimulated  by  suggestion,  upon  the  power  of  hearing  Dr.  Liebeault * 
records  two  cases  which  are  among  the  most  significant  that  I  know.  If 
such  susceptibility  to  self-suggestion  could  be  reached  by  patients  gen- 
erally, there  might  be,  with  no  miracle  at  all,  a  removal  of  perhaps  half 
the  annoyance  which  deafness  inflicts  on  mankind. 

I  pass  on  to  cases  of  the  production  by  suggestion  or  self-suggestion 
of  hyperesthesia,  —  of  a  degree  of  sensory  delicacy  which  overpasses 
the  ordinary  level,  and  the  previous  level  of  the  subject  himself. 

The  rudimentary  state  of  our  study  of  hypnotism  is  somewhat  strangely 
illustrated  by  the  fact  that  most  of  the  experiments  which  show  hyper- 
esthesia most  delicately  have  been  undertaken  with  a  view  of  proving 
something  else  —  namely,  mesmeric  rapport,  or  the  mesmerisation  of 
objects,  or  telepathy.  In  these  cases  the  proof  of  rapport,  telepathy,  etc., 
generally  just  falls  short,  —  because  one  cannot  say  that  the  action  of  the 
ordinary  senses  might  not  have  reached  the  point  necessary  for  the  achieve- 
ment, though  there  is  often  good  reason  to  believe  that  the  subject  was 
supraliminally  ignorant  of  the  way  in  which  he  was,  in  fact,  attaining 
the  knowledge  in  question. 

In  these  extreme  cases,  indeed,  the  explanation  by  hyperesthesia  is 
not  always  proved.  There  may  have  been  telepathy,  although  one  has 
not  the  right  to  assume  telepathy,  in  view  of  certain  slighter,  but  still  re- 
markable, hyperaesthetic  achievements,  which  are  common  subjects  of 
demonstration.  The  ready  recognition  of  points  de  repere,  on  the  back 
of  a  card  or  the  like,  which  are  hardly  perceptible  to  ordinary  eyes,  is  one 
of  the  most  usual  of  these  performances. 

In  this  connection  the  question  arises  as  to  the  existence  of  physio- 
logical limits  to  the  exercise  of  the  ordinary  senses.  In  the  case  of  the 
eye  a  minimum  visibile  is  generally  assumed;  and  there  is  special  interest 
in  a  case  of  clairvoyance  versus  cornea-reading,  where,  if  the  words  were 
read  (as  appears  most  probable)  from  their  reflection  upon  the  cornea 
of  the  hypnotiser,  the  common  view  as  to  the  minimum  visibile  is  greatly 
stretched.2 

1  Therapeutique  Suggestive,  pp.  64  et  seq. 

2  See  the  Revue  Philosophique,  November  1886.  The  same  case  is  discussed 
in  Mind  for  January  1887  [539  A]. 


i44  CHAPTER   V 

With  regard  to  the  other  senses,  whose  mechanism  is  less  capable  of 
minute  dissection,  one  meets  problems  of  a  rather  different  kind.  What 
are  the  definitions  of  smell  and  touch?  Touch  is  already  split  up  into 
various  factors  —  tactile,  algesic,  thermal;  and  thermal  touch  is  itself  a 
duplicate  sense,  depending  apparently  on  one  set  of  nerve-terminations 
adapted  to  perceive  heat,  and  another  set  adapted  to  perceive  cold.  Taste 
is  similarly  split  up;  and  we  do  not  call  anything  taste  which  is  not  defi- 
nitely referred  to  the  mouth  and  adjacent  regions.  Smell  is  vaguer;  and 
there  are  cognate  sensations  (like  that  of  the  presence  of  a  cat)  which  are 
not  referred  by  their  subject  to  the  nose.  The  study  of  hyperesthesia 
does  in  this  sense  prepare  the  way  for  what  I  have  termed  heteraesthesia; 
in  that  it  leaves  us  more  cautious  in  definition  as  to  what  the  senses  are, 
it  accustoms  us  to  the  notion  that  people  become  aware  of  things  in  many 
ways  which  they  cannot  definitely  realise. 

Let  us  now  consider  the  evidence  for  heteraesthesia;  —  for  the  existence, 
that  is  to  say,  under  hypnotic  suggestion,  of  any  form  of  sensibility  de- 
cidedly different  from  those  with  which  we  are  familiar.  It  would  sound 
more  accurate  if  one  could  say  "demanding  some  end-organ  different 
from  those  which  we  know  that  we  possess."  But  we  know  too  little  of 
the  range  of  perceptivity  of  these  end-organs  in  the  skin  which  we  are 
gradually  learning  to  distinguish  —  of  the  heat-feeling  spots,  cold-feeling 
spots,  and  the  like  —  to  be  able  to  say  for  what  purposes  a  new  organ 
would  be  needed.  For  certain  heteraesthetic  sensations,  indeed,  as  the 
perception  of  a  magnetic  field,  one  can  hardly  assume  that  any  end-organ 
would  be  necessary.  It  is  better,  therefore,  to  speak  only  of  modes  of 
sensibility. 

Looking  at  the  matter  from  the  evolutionary  point  of  view,  the  question 
among  sensations  was  one  of  the  development  of  the  fittest;  that  is  to  say 
that,  as  the  organism  became  more  complex  and  needed  sensations  more 
definite  than  sufficed  for  the  protozoon,  certain  sensibilities  got  themselves 
defined  and  stereotyped  upon  the  organism  by  the  evolution  of  end-organs.1 
Others  failed  to  get  thus  externalised;  but  may,  for  aught  we  know,  persist 
nevertheless  in  the  central  organs;  —  say,  for  instance,  in  what  for  man 
are  the  optic  or  olfactory  tracts  of  the  brain.  There  will  then  be  no  ap- 
parent reason  why  these  latent  powers  should  not  from  time  to  time  receive 
sufficient  stimulus,  either  from  within  or  from  without,  to  make  them 
perceptible  to  the  waking  intelligence,  or  perceptible  at  least  in  states 
(like  trance)  of  narrow  concentration. 

1  Nagel  suggests  that  there  may  have  been  at  a  certain  stage  mixed  sense-organs, 
by  means  of  which  two  or  three  sensations  were  perceived  simultaneously. 


HYPNOTISM  145 

As  the  result  of  these  considerations,  I  approach  alleged  heteraesthesiae 
of  various  kinds  with  no  presumption  whatever  against  their  real  occur- 
rence. Yet  on  the  other  hand,  my  belief  in  the  extent  of  possible  hyper- 
esthesia continually  suggests  to  me  that  the  apparently  new  perceptions 
may  only  consist  of  a  mixture  of  familiar  forms  of  perception,  pushed 
to  a  new  extreme,  and  centrally  interpreted  with  a  new  acumen,  while 
there  is  no  doubt  that  many  experiments  supposed  to  furnish  evidence 
of  such  new  perceptions  merely  illustrate  the  effect  of  suggestion  or  self- 
suggestion. 

Without,  however,  presuming  to  criticise  past  evidence  wholesale,  I 
yet  hope  that  the  experience  now  attained  may  lead  to  a  much  greater 
number  of  well-guarded  experiments  in  the  near  future.  In  Appendix 
V.A,  I  very  briefly  present  the  actual  state  of  this  inquiry.  In  default  of 
any  logical  principle,  I  shall  there  divide  these  alleged  forms  of  sensibility 
according  as  they  are  excited  by  inorganic  objects  on  the  one  hand,  or  by 
organisms  (dead  or  living)  on  the  other. 

In  the  meantime  I  pass  on  to  that  group  of  the  dynamogenic  effects 
of  suggestion  which  affect  the  more  central  vital  operations  —  either  the 
vaso-motor  system,  or  the  neuro-muscular  system,  or  the  central  sensory 
tracts.  The  effects  of  suggestion  on  character  —  induced  changes  to 
which  we  can  hardly  guess  the  nervous  concomitant  —  will  remain  to  be 
dealt  with  later. 

First,  then,  as  to  the  effects  of  suggestion  on  the  vaso-motor  system. 
Simple  effects  of  this  type  form  the  commonest  of  " platform  experiments." 
The  mesmerist  holds  ammonia  under  his  subject's  nose,  and  tells  him  it 
is  rose-water.  The  subject  smells  it  eagerly,  and  his  eyes  do  not  water. 
The  suggestion,  that  is  to  say,  that  the  stinging  vapour  is  inert  has  in- 
hibited the  vaso-motor  reflexes  which  would  ordinarily  follow,  and  which 
no  ordinary  effort  of  will  could  restrain.  Vice  versd,  when  the  subject 
smells  rose-water,  described  as  ammonia,  he  sneezes  and  his  eyes  water. 
These  results,  which  his  own  will  could  not  produce,  follow  on  the  mes- 
merist's word.  No  one  who  sees  these  simple  tests  applied  can  doubt 
the  genuineness  of  the  influence  at  work.  We  find  then,  as  might  be  ex- 
pected, that  action  on  glands  and  secretions  constitutes  a  large  element 
in  hypnotic  therapeutics.  The  literature  of  suggestion  is  full  of  instances 
where  a  suppressed  secretion  has  been  restored  at  a  previously  arranged 
moment,  almost  with  "astronomical  punctuality."  And  yet  in  what 
memory  is  that  command  retained?  by  what  signal  is  it  announced?  or 
by  what  agency  obeyed? 

In  spite  of  this  underlying  obscurity,  common  to  every  branch  of 


146  CHAPTER   V 

suggestion,  these  vaso-motor  phenomena  are  by  this  time  so  familiar  that 
no  further  description  of  them  is  necessary. 

This  delicate  responsiveness  of  the  vaso-motor  system  has  given  rise 
to  some  curious  spontaneous  phenomena,  and  has  suggested  some  experi- 
ments, which  are  probably  as  yet  in  their  infancy.  The  main  point  of 
interest  is  that  at  this  point  spontaneous  self-suggestion,  and  subsequently 
suggestion  from  without,  have  made  a  kind  of  first  attempt  at  the  modi- 
fication of  the  human  organism  in  what  may  be  called  fancy  directions, 
—  at  the  production  of  a  change  which  has  no  therapeutic  aim,  and  so 
to  say,  no  physiological  unity;  but  which  is  guided  by  an  intellectual  ca- 
price along  lines  with  which  the  organism  is  not  previously  familiar.  I 
speak  of  the  phenomenon  commonly  known  as  "stigmatisation,"  from 
the  fact  that  its  earliest  spontaneous  manifestations  were  suggested  by 
imaginations  brooding  on  the  stigmata  of  Christ's  passion;  —  the  marks 
of  wounds  in  hands  and  feet  and  side.  This  phenomenon,  which  was 
long  treated  both  by  savants  and  by  devotees  as  though  it  must  be  either 
fraudulent  or  miraculous,  —  ou  supercherie,  ou  miracle,  —  is  now  found 
(like  a  good  many  other  phenomena  previously  deemed  subject  to  that 
dilemma)  to  enter  readily  within  the  widening  circuit  of  natural  law.  Stig- 
matisation is,  in  fact,  a  form  of  vesication;  and  suggested  vesication  — 
with  the  quasi-burns  and  real  blisters  which  obediently  appear  in  any 
place  and  pattern  that  is  ordered  —  is  a  high  development  of  that  same 
vaso-motor  plasticity  of  which  the  ammonia-rose-water  experiment  was 
an  early  example.1 

1  For  a  circumstantial  English  account  of  the  well-known  case  of  Louise  Lateau, 
see  Macmillan's  Magazine,  vol.  xxiii.  pp.  488  et  seq. 

Three  cases  of  the  production  of  cruciform  marks  reported  by  Dr.  Biggs,  of  Lima, 
appeared  in  the  Journal  S.P.R.,  vol.  Hi.  p.  100. 

Another  remarkable  American  case  of  stigmatisation  was  reported  in  the  Courier- 
Journal,  Louisville,  Ky.,  December  7th,  1891,  on  the  authority  of  Dr.  M.  F.  Coomes 
and  several  other  physicians. 

See  also  the  case  of  lima  S.  recorded  in  Dr.  R.  von  Krafft-Ebing's  Experimental 
Study  in  Hypnotism. 

Dr.  P.  Janet  describes  somewhat  similar  experiments  in  VAutomatisme  Psycho- 
logique  (see  p.  166  et  seq.). 

Again,  somewhat  similar  is  a  case  recorded  by  Dr.  J.  Rybalkin  in  the  Revue  de 
VHypnotisme,  June  1890  (p.  361),  in  which  a  post-hypnotic  suggestion  to  the  subject 
to  burn  his  arm  at  a  stove  —  really  unlighted  —  produced  blisters  as  of  a  burn. 

Haemorrhage  and  bleeding  stigmata  were  several  times  produced  in  the  famous 
subject,  Louis  Vive,  by  verbal  suggestion  alone.  (Drs.  Bourru  and  Burot,  Comptes 
Rendus  de  la  Societe  de  Biologie,  July  12th,  1885;  and  Dr.  Mabille,  Progres  Medical, 
August  29th,  1885.) 


HYPNOTISM  147 

The  group  of  suggestive  effects  which  we  reach  next  in  order  is  a  wide 
and  important  one.  The  education  of  the  central  sensory  faculties,  — ■ 
of  our  power  of  inwardly  representing  to  ourselves  sights  and  sounds,  etc., 
—  is  not  less  important  than  the  education  of  the  external  senses.  The 
powers  of  construction  and  combination  which  our  central  organs  possess 
differ  more  widely  in  degree  in  different  healthy  individuals  than  the  de- 
grees of  external  perception  itself.  And  the  stimulating  influence  of  hyp- 
notism on  imagination  is  perhaps  the  most  conspicuous  phenomenon 
which  the  whole  subject  offers ;  yet  it  has  been  little  dwelt  upon,  save  from 
one  quite  superficial  point  of  view. 

Every  one  knows  that  a  hypnotised  subject  is  easily  hallucinated;  — 
that  if  he  is  told  to  see  a  non-existent  dog,  he  sees  a  dog,  —  that  if  he  is 
told  not  to  see  Mr.  A.,  he  sees  everything  in  the  room,  Mr.  A.  excepted. 
Common  and  conspicuous,  I  say,  as  this  experiment  is,  even  the  scientific 
observer  has  too  often  dealt  with  it  with  the  shallowness  of  the  platform 
lecturer.  The  lecturer  represents  this  induced  hallucinability  simply  as 
an  odd  illustration  of  his  own  power  over  the  subject.  "I  tell  him  to 
forget  his  name,  and  he  forgets  his  name;  I  tell  him  that  he  has  a  baby 
on  his  lap,  and  he  sees  and  feels  and  dandles  it."  At  the  best,  such  a 
hallucination  is  quoted  as  an  instance  of  "mono-ideism."  But  the  real 
kernel  of  the  phenomenon  is  not  the  inhibition  but  the  dynamogeny;  — 
not  the  abstraction  of  attention  or  imagination  from  other  topics,  but 
the  increased  power  which  imagination  gains  under  suggestion;  —  the 
development  of  faculty,  useless,  if  you  will,  in  that  special  form  of  imagin- 
ing the  baby,  but  faculty  mentally  of  a  high  order  —  faculty  in  one  shape 
or  another  essential  to  the  production  of  almost  all  the  most  admired  forms 
of  human  achievement. 

On  this  theme  I  shall  have  much  to  say;  yet  here  again  it  will  be  con- 
venient to  defer  fuller  discussion  until  I  review  what  I  have  termed  "sen- 
sory automatism"  in  a  more  general  way.  We  shall  then  see  that  this 
quickened  imaginative  faculty  is  not  educed  by  hypnosis  alone;  that  it 
is  a  part  of  the  equipment  of  the  subliminal  self,  and  will  be  better  treated 

Professor  Beaunis  (Recherches  Experimentales ,  etc.,  Paris,  1886,  p.  29)  produced 
redness  and  cutaneous  congestion  in  his  subject,  Mile.  A.  E.,  by  suggestion,  and  the 
experiment  was  repeated  on  the  same  subject  by  the  present  writer  and  Edmund 
Gurney  in  September  1885  (see  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  iv.  p.  167). 

It  appears  that  there  is  at-  present  at  the  Salpetriere  a  stigmatisee,  the  develop- 
ment of  whose  stigmata  has  been  watched  by  Dr.  Janet  under  copper  shields  with 
glass  windows  inserted  in  them  {Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  December  1900,  p.  190). 

Other  cases  are  recorded  in  the  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  June  1890,  p.  353;  the 
same  February  1892,  p.  251  [543  A  to  H]. 


i48  CHAPTER   V 

at  length  in  connection  with  other  spontaneous  manifestations.  Enough 
here  to  have  pointed  out  the  main  fact ;  for  when  pointed  out  it  can  hardly 
be  disputed,  although  its  significance  for  the  true  comprehension  of  hyp- 
notic phenomena  has  been  too  often  overlooked. 

Yet  here,  and  in  direct  connection  with  hypnotism,  certain  special 
features  of  hallucinations  need  to  be  insisted  upon,  both  as  partly  explain- 
ing certain  more  advanced  hypnotic  phenomena,  and  also  as  suggesting 
lines  of  important  experiment.     The  first  point  is  this. 

Post-hypnotic  hallucinations  can  be  postponed  at  will.  That  is  to 
say,  a  constant  watchfulness  is  exercised  by  the  subject,  so  that  if,  for 
example,  the  hypnotiser  tells  him  that  he  will  (when  awakened)  poke 
the  fire  when  the  hypnotiser  has  coughed  three  times,  the  awakened  sub- 
ject, although  knowing  nothing  of  the  order  in  his  waking  state,  will  be 
on  the  look-out  for  the  coughs,  amid  all  other  disturbances,  and  will  poke 
the  fire  at  the  fore-ordained  signal.1  Moreover,  when  the  post-hypnotic 
suggestion  is  executed  there  will  often  be  a  slight  momentary  relapse  into 
the  hypnotic  state,  and  the  subject  will  not  afterwards  be  aware  that  he 
has  (for  instance)  poked  the  fire  at  all.  This  means  that  the  suggested 
act  belongs  properly  to  the  hypnotic,  not  to  the  normal  chain  of  memory; 
so  that  its  performance  involves  a  brief  reappearance  of  the  subliminal 
self  which  received  the  order. 

Another  characteristic  of  these  suggested  hallucinations  tells  in  exactly 
the  same  direction.  It  is  possible  to  suggest  no  mere  isolated  picture, 
—  a  black  cat  on  the  table,  or  the  like,  —  but  a  whole  complex  series  of 
responses  to  circumstances  not  at  the  time  predictable.  This  point  is 
well  illustrated  by  what  are  called  "negative  hallucinations"  or  "sys- 
tematised  anaesthesiae."  Suppose,  for  instance,  that  I  tell  a  hypnotised 
subject  that  when  he  awakes  there  will  be  no  one  in  the  room  with  him 
but  myself.  He  awakes  and  remembers  nothing  of  this  order,  but  sees 
me  alone  in  the  room.  Other  persons  present  endeavour  to  attract  his 
attention  in  various  ways.  Sometimes  he  will  be  quite  unconscious  of 
their  noises  and  movements;  sometimes  he  will  perceive  them,  but  will 
explain  them  away,  as  due  to  other  causes,  in  the  same  irrational  manner 
as  one  might  do  in  a  dream.  Or  he  may  perceive  them,  be  unable  to 
explain  them,  and  feel  considerable  terror  until  the  "  negative  hallucina- 
tion "  is  dissolved  by  a  fresh  word  of  command.  It  is  plain,  in  fact,  through- 
out, that  some  element  in  him  is  at  work  all  the  time  in  obedience  to  the 
suggestion  given,  —  is  keeping  him  by  ever  fresh  modifications  of  his 
illusion  from  discovering  its  unreality.  Nothing  could  be  more  charac- 
1  See  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  iv.  pp.  268-323  [551  A]. 


HYPNOTISM  149 

teristic  of  what  I  have  called  a  "middle-level  centre"  of  the  subliminal 
self  —  of  some  element  in  his  nature  which  is  potent  and  persistent  without 
being  completely  intelligent;  —  a  kind  of  dream-producer,  ready  at  any 
moment  to  vary  and  defend  the  dream. 

Another  indication  of  the  subliminal  power  at  work  to  produce  these 
hallucinations  is  their  remarkable  range  —  a  range  as  wide,  perhaps,  as 
that  over  which  therapeutic  effects  are  obtainable  by  suggestion.  The 
post-hypnotic  hallucination  may  affect  not  sight  and  hearing  alone  (to 
which  spontaneous  hallucinations  are  in  most  cases  confined),  but  all 
kinds  of  vaso-motor  responses  and  organic  sensations  —  cardiac,  stomachic, 
and  the  like  —  which  no  artifice  can  affect  in  a  waking  person.  The 
legendary  flow  of  perspiration  with  which  the  flatterer  sympathises  with 
his  patron's  complaint  of  heat  —  si  dixeris  "^Estuo"  sudat  —  is  no  exag- 
geration if  applied  to  the  hypnotic  subject,  who  will  often  sweat  and  shiver 
at  your  bidding  as  you  transplant  him  from  the  Equator  to  frosty  Caucasus. 

Well,  then,  given  this  strength  and  vigour  of  hallucination,  one  sees 
a  possible  extension  of  knowledge  in  more  than  one  direction.  To  begin 
with,  by  suggestion  to  the  subject  that  he  is  feeling  or  doing  something 
which  is  beyond  his  normal  range  of  faculties,  we  may  perhaps  enable 
him  to  perceive  or  to  act  as  thus  suggested. 

What  we  need  is  to  address  to  a  sensitive  subject  a  series  of  strong 
suggestions  of  the  increase  of  his  sensory  range  and  power.  We  must 
needs  begin  by  suggesting  hallucinatory  sensations:  —  the  subject  should 
be  told  that  he  perceives  some  stimulus  which  is,  in  fact,  too  feeble  for 
ordinary  perception.  If  you  can  make  him  think  that  he  perceives  it,  he 
probably  will  after  a  time  perceive  it;  the  direction  given  to  his  attention 
heightening  either  peripheral  or  central  sensory  faculty.  You  may  then 
be  able  to  attack  the  question  as  to  how  far  his  specialised  end-organs 
are  really  concerned  in  the  perception;  —  and  it  may  then  be  possible 
to  deal  in  a  more  fruitful  way  with  those  alleged  cases  of  transposition 
of  senses  which  have  so  great  a  theoretical  interest  as  being  apparently 
intermediate  between  hyperesthesia  and  telaesthesia  or  clairvoyance.  If 
we  once  admit  (as  I,  of  course,  admit)  the  reality  of  telaesthesia,  it  is  just 
in  some  such  way  as  this  that  we  should  expect  to  find  it  beginning. 

I  start  from  the  thesis  that  the  perceptive  power  within  us  precedes 
and  is  independent  of  the  specialised  sense-organs,  which  it  has  developed 
for  earthly  use, 

vovs  bpq.  K<xl  vovs  &Kofei'  raXKa  Koxpd.  Kal  rv<pi\6.. 

I  conceive  further  that  under  certain  circumstances  this  primary  telaes- 
thetic  faculty  resumes  direct  operations,  in  spite  of  the  fleshly  barriers 


150  CHAPTER   V 

which  are  constructed  so  as  to  allow  it  to  operate  through  certain  channels 
alone.  And  I  conceive  that  in  thus  resuming  exercise  of  the  wider  faculty, 
the  incarnate  spirit  will  be  influenced  or  hampered  by  the  habits  or  self- 
suggestions  of  the  more  specialised  faculty;  so  that  there  may  be  apparent 
compromises  of  different  kinds  between  telaesthetic  and  hyperaesthetic 
perception,  —  as  the  specialised  senses  endeavour,  as  it  were,  to  retain 
credit  for  the  perception  which  is  in  reality  widening  beyond  their  scope. 

In  this  attitude  of  mind,  then,  I  approach  the  recorded  cases  of  trans- 
position of  special  sense.1 

Two  main  hypotheses  have  been  put  forward  as  a  general  explanation 
of  such  cases,  neither  of  which  seems  to  me  quite  satisfactory,  (i)  The 
common  theory  would  be  that  these  are  merely  cases  of  erroneous  self- 
suggestion  ;  —  that  the  subject  really  sees  with  the  eye,  but  thinks  that 
he  sees  with  the  knee,  or  the  stomach,  or  the  finger-tips.  This  may  protj- 
ably  have  been  so  in  many,  but  not,  I  think,  in  all  instances.  (2)  Dr*. 
Prosper  Despine  and  others  suppose  that,  while  the  accustomed  cerebral 
centres  are  still  concerned  in  the  act  of  sight,  the  finger-end  (for  example) 
acts  for  the  nonce  as  the  end-organ  required  to  carry  the  visual  sensation  to 
the  brain.  I  cannot  here  get  over  the  mechanical  difficulty  of  the  absence 
of  a  lens.  However  hyperaesthetic  the  finger-end  might  be  (say)  to  light 
and  darkness,  I  can  hardly  imagine  its  acting  as  an  organ  of  definite  sight. 

My  own  suggestion  (which,  for  aught  I  know,  may  have  been  made 
before)  is  that  the  finger-end  is  no  more  a  true  organ  of  sight  than  the 
arbitrary  "hypnogenous  zone"  is  a  true  organ  for  inducing  trance.  I 
think  it  possible  that  there  may  be  actual  telaesthesia,  —  not  necessarily 
involving  any  perception  by  the  bodily  organism;  —  and  that  the  spirit 
which  thus  perceives  in  wholly  supernormal  fashion  may  be  under  the 
impression  that  it  is  perceiving  through  some  bizarre  corporeal  channel 
—  as  the  knee  or  the  stomach.  I  think,  therefore,  that  the  perception 
may  not  be  optical  sight  at  all,  but  rather  some  generalised  telaesthetic 
perception  represented  as  visual,  but  incoherently  so  represented;  so  that 
it  may  be  referred  to  the  knee  instead  of  the  retina.  And  here  again,  as 
at  several  previous  points  in  my  argument,  I  must  refer  the  reader  to  what 
will  be  said  in  my  chapter  on  Possession  by  external  spirits  (Chapter  IX.) 
to  illustrate  the  operation  even  of  the  subject's  own  spirit  acting  without 
external  aid. 

1  Professor  Fontan's  experiments  described  in  the  Revue  Philosbphique ,  August 
1887,  cannot  lightly  be  set  aside.  An  account  of  his  experiments  is  given  in  Pro- 
ceedings S.P.R  vol.  ii.  p.  263-268.  [549  D].  See  also  the  works  of  Petetin,  Durand, 
Foissac,  and  Despine,  especially  Observations  de  Medecine  Pratique,  pp.  45,  62, 
and  Etude  Scientifique  sur  Somnambulisme,  p.  167. 


HYPNOTISM  151 

And  now  I  come  to  the  third  main  type  of  the  dynamogenic  efficacy 
of  suggestion :  its  influence,  namely,  on  attention,  on  will,  and  on  character 

—  character,  indeed,  being  largely  a  resultant  of  the  direction  and  per- 
sistence of  voluntary  attention. 

It  will  be  remembered  that  for  convenience'  sake  I  have  discussed 
the  dynamogenic  effect  of  suggestion  first  upon  the  external  senses,  then 
upon  the  internal  sensibility,  —  the  mind's  eye,  the  mind's  ear,  and  the 
imagination  generally;  —  and  now  I  am  turning  to  similar  effects  exercised 
upon  that  central  power  which  reasons  upon  the  ideas  and  images  which 
external  and  internal  senses  supply,  which  chooses  between  them,  and 
which  reacts  according  to  its  choice.  These  are  "highest-level  centres," 
which  I  began  by  saying  that  the  hypnotist  could  rarely  hope  to  reach; 

—  since  those  spontaneous  somnambulisms  which  the  hypnotic  trance 
imitates  and  develops  do  so  seldom  reach  them.  We  have,  however, 
already  found  a  good  deal  of  intelligence  of  a  certain  kind  in  hypnotic 
phenomena;  what  we  do  here  is  to  pass  from  one  stage  to  another  and 
higher  stage  of  consciousness  of  intelligent  action. 

To  explain  this  statement,  let  us  dwell  for  a  moment  upon  the  degree 
of  intelligence  which  is  sometimes  displayed  in  those  modifications  of 
the  organism  which  suggestion  effects.  Take,  for  instance,  the  formation 
of  a  cruciform  blister,  as  recorded  by  Dr.  Biggs,  of  Lima.1  In  this  experi- 
ment the  hypnotised  subject  was  told  that  a  red  cross  would  appear  on 
her  chest  every  Friday  during  a  period  of  four  months.  For  the  carrying 
out  of  this  suggestion  an  unusual  combination  of  capacities  was  needed; 

—  the  capacity  of  directing  physiological  changes  in  a  new  way,  and  also, 
and  combined  therewith,  the  capacity  of  recognising  and  imitating  an 
abstract,  arbitrary,  non-physiological  idea,  such  as  that  of  crucijormity. 

All  this,  in  my  view,  is  the  expression  of  subliminal  control  over  the 
organism  —  more  potent  and  profound  than  supraliminal,  and  exercised 
neither  blindly  nor  wisely,  but  with  intelligent  caprice. 

Bearing  this  in  mind  as  we  go  on  to  suggestions  more  directly  affecting 
central  faculty,  in  which  highest-level  centres  begin  to  be  involved,  we  need 
not  be  surprised  to  find  an  intermediate  stage  in  which  high  faculties 
are  used  in  obedience  to  suggestion,  for  purely  capricious  ends. 

I  speak  of  calculations  subliminally  performed  in  the  carrying  out  of 
post-hypnotic  suggestions. 

These  suggestions  a  Zcheance  —  commands,  given  in  the  trance,  to 
do  something  under  certain  contingent  circumstances,  or  after  a  certain 
time  has  elapsed  — form  a  very  convenient  mode  of  testing  the  amount 
1  See  Journal  S.P.R.,  vol.  iii.  p.  100  [543  B]. 


152  CHAPTER   V 

of  mentation  which  can  be  started  and  carried  out  without  the  interven- 
tion of  the  supraliminal  consciousness.  Experiments  have  been  made 
in  this  direction  by  three  men  especially  who  have  in  recent  times  done 
some  of  the  best  work  on  the  psychological  side  of  hypnotism,  namely, 
Edmund  Gurney,  Delbceuf,  and  Milne  Bramwell. 

Dr.  Milne  Bramwell's  experiments1  (to  mention  these  as  a  sample  of 
the  rest)  were  post-hypnotic  suggestions  involving  arithmetical  calcula- 
tions; the  entranced  subject,  for  instance,  being  told  to  make  a  cross  when 
20,180  minutes  had  elapsed  from  the  moment  of  the  order.  Their  primary 
importance  lay  in  showing  that  a  subliminal  or  hypnotic  memory  per- 
sisted across  the  intervening  gulf  of  time,  —  days  and  nights  of  ordinary 
life,  —  and  prompted  obedience  to  the  order  when  at  last  it  fell  due.  But 
incidentally,  as  I  say,  it  became  clear  that  the  subject,  whose  arithmetical 
capacity  in  common  life  was  small,  worked  out  these  sums  subliminally 
a  good  deal  better  than  she  could  work  them  out  by  her  normal  waking 
intelligence. 

Of  course,  all  that  was  needed  for  such  simple  calculations  was  close 
attention  to  easy  rules ;  but  this  was  just  what  the  waking  mind  was  unable 
to  give,  at  least  without  the  help  of  pencil  and  paper.  If  we  lay  this  long 
and  careful  experiment  side  by  side  with  the  accounts  already  given  of 
the  solution  of  problems  in  somnambulic  states,  it  seems  clear  that  there 
is  yet  much  to  be  done  in  the  education  of  subliminal  memory  and  acumen 
as  a  help  to  supraliminal  work. 

Important  in  this  connection  is  Dr.  Dufay's  account  of  help  given  to 
an  actress  in  the  representation  of  her  roles  by  hypnotisation.2  It  seems 
obvious  that  stage-fright  is  just  the  kind  of  nervous  annoyance  from  which 
hypnotisation  should  give  relief.  Somewhat  similarly  I  believe  some 
persons  can  secure  a  cheap  substitute  for  genius  on  stage  or  platform, 
evoking  by  suggestion  or  self-suggestion  a  helpful  subliminal  uprush. 
Here  again,  the  hypnotisation  is  a  kind  of  extension  of  "  secondary  auto- 
matism,"—  of  the  familiar  lapse  from  ordinary  consciousness  of  move- 
ments (walking,  pianoforte-playing,  etc.),  which  have  been  very  frequently 
performed.  The  possibilities  thus  opened  up  are  very  great:  no  less  than 
the  combination  by  mankind  of  the  stability  of  instinct  with  the  plasticity 
of  reason.  There  seems  no  reason  why  man's  range  of  automatism  should 
not  thus  be  largely  increased  in  two  main  ways :  many  things  now  unpleasant 
to  do  might  be  done  with  indifference,  and  many  things  now  difficult  to 
do  might  be  done  with  ease. 

1  See  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  xii.  pp.  176-203  [551  C]. 

2  Revue  Philosophique,  September  1888  [552  A]. 


HYPNOTISM  153 

And  now  let  us  pass  on  from  these  specialised  influences  of  suggestion 
on  certain  kinds  of  attention  to  its  influence  on  attention  generally,  as 
needed,  for  instance,  in  education.  If  we  can  arrest  the  shifting  of  the 
mental  focus  to  undesired  ideational  centres  in  at  all  the  same  way  as  we 
can  arrest  the  choreic  or  fidgetty  shiftings  of  motor  impulse  to  undesired 
motor  centres,  wcshall  have  done  perhaps  as  much  for  the  world's  ordinary 
work  as  if  we  had  raised  the  average  man's  actual  intelligence  a  step  higher 
in  the  scale.  We  shall  have  checked  waste,  although  we  may  not  have 
improved  quality.  The  well-known  case  of  Dr.  Forel's  warders,1  who 
were  enabled  by  hypnotic  suggestion  to  sleep  soundly  by  the  side  of  the 
patients  they  had  to  watch,  and  wake  only  when  the  patients  required 
to  be  restrained,  shows  us  how  by  this  means  the  attention  may  be  con- 
centrated on  selected  impressions  and  waste  of  energy  be  avoided  in  a 
way  that  could  hardly  be  compassed  by  any  ordinary  exercise  of  the  will. 

How  far,  indeed,  we  can  go  in  actually  heightening  intelligence  by 
suggestion  we  have  yet  to  learn.  We  must  not  expect  to  add  a  cubit  to 
intellectual  any  more  than  to  physical  stature.  Limitations  at  birth  must 
prevent  our  developing  the  common  man  into  a  Newton;  but  there  seems 
no  reason  why  we  should  not  bring  up  his  practical  achievements  much 
nearer  than  at  present  to  the  maximum  of  his  innate  capacity.2 

In  passing  on  from  the  influence  of  suggestion  on  attention  to  its  in- 
fluence on  will,  I  am  not  meaning  to  draw  any  but  the  most  every-day 
distinction  between  these  two  forms  of  inward  concentration.  The  point, 
in  fact,  which  I  wish  now  to  notice  is  rather  a  matter  of  common  observa- 
tion than  a  provable  and  measurable  phenomenon.  I  speak  of  the  energy 
and  resolution  with  which  a  hypnotic  suggestion  is  carried  out;  —  the 
ferocity,  even,  with  which  the  entranced  subject  pushes  aside  the  opposi- 
tion of  much  more  powerful  men.  I  do  not,  indeed,  assert  that  he  would 
thus  risk  very  serious  injury;  for  I  believe  (with  Bramwell  and  others)  that 
there  does  exist  somewhere  within  him  a  knowledge  that  the  whole  pro- 
ceeding is  a  mere  experiment.  But,  nevertheless,  he  actually  risks  some- 
thing; he  behaves,  in  short,  as  a  confident,  resolute  man  would  behave, 
and  this  however  timid  and  unaggressive  his  habitual  character  may  be. 
I  believe  that  much  advantage  may  yet  be  drawn  from  this  confident  tem- 
per. We  can  thus  inhibit  the  acquired  self-distrust  and  shyness  of  the 
supraliminal  self,  and  get  the  subliminal  self  concentrated  upon  some 

1  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  vol.  vi.  p.  357  [553  A]. 

2  For  illustrative  instances  see  Brain,  Summer  Number  1900,  p.  207,  Revue  de 
VHypnotisme,  January  1889,  and  Be"rillon,  De  la  suggestion  et  de  ses  applications  a  la 
pSdagogie  (1887)  [553  B].  See  also  Be"rillon,  La  Psychologie  du  Courage  et  l' Edu- 
cation du  Caractere.     Paris  1905. 


154  CHAPTER   V 

task  which  may  be  as  difficult  as  we  please;  —  which  may,  if  we  can  adjust 
it  rightly,  draw  out  to  the  uttermost  the  innate  powers  of  man. 

It  has  been  supposed  that  the  mere  fact  of  being  hypnotised  tended 
to  weaken  the  will;  that  the  hypnotised  person  fell  inevitably  more  and 
more  under  the  control  of  the  hypnotiser,  and  even  that  he  could  at  last 
be  induced  to  commit  crimes  by  suggestion.  In  his  article  "  What  is 
Hypnotism?"1  Dr.  Milne  Bramwell  shows  on  how  small  a  foundation 
of  fact  these  fanciful  theories  have  been  erected.  It  may  suffice  to  say 
here  that  nothing  is  easier,  either  for  subject  or  for  hypnotiser,  than  to 
avert  undue  influence.  A  trusted  friend  has  only  to  suggest  to  the  hyp- 
notised subject  that  no  one  else  will  be  able  to  affect  him,  and  the  thing 
is  done.  As  to  the  crimes  supposed  to  be  committed  by  hypnotised  per- 
sons under  the  influence  of  suggestion,  the  evidence  for  such  crimes,  in 
spite  of  great  efforts  made  to  collect  it  and  set  it  forth,  remains,  I  think, 
practically  nil. 

This  fact,  I  must  add,  is  quite  in  harmony  with  the  views  expressed 
in  the  present  chapter.  For  it  implies  that  the  higher  subliminal  centres 
(so  to  term  them)  never  really  abdicate  their  rule;  that  they  may  indeed 
remain  passive  while  the  middle  centres  obey  the  experimenter's  caprice, 
but  are  still  ready  to  resume  their  control  if  such  experiment  should 
become  really  dangerous  to  the  individual.  And  this  runs  parallel  with 
common  experience  in  the  spontaneous  somnambulisms.  The  sleeper 
may  perform  apparently  rash  exploits;  but  yet,  unless  he  be  suddenly 
awakened,  serious  accidents  are  very  rare.  Nevertheless,  both  in  spon- 
taneous and  in  induced  somnambulism,  accidents  may  occur;  nor  should 
any  experiment  be  undertaken  in  a  careless  or  jesting  spirit. 

But  the  role  of  the  hypnotiser,  as  our  command  over  hypnotic  artifice 
increases,  is  likely  to  become  continually  smaller  in  proportion  to  the  role 
played  by  the  subject  himself.  Especially  must  this  be  so  where  the 
object  is  to  strengthen  the  subject's  own  power  of  will.  All  that  can  be 
done  from  without  in  such  a  case  is  to  imbue  the  man's  spirit  with  the 
sense  of  its  unexhausted  prerogatives,  —  the  strength  which  he  may  then 
employ,  not  only  to  avert  pain  or  anxiety,  but  in  any  active  direction 
which  his  original  nature  itself  admits. 

These  last  words  may  naturally  lead  us  on  to  our  next  topic:  the 
influence  of  suggestion  on  character,  —  on  that  function  of  combined 
attention  and  will,  which  is,  of  course,  also  ultimately  a  function  of  the 
possibilities  latent  in  the  individual  germ. 

First  of  all,  then,  and  going  back  to  the  evidence  already  given  as  to 

1  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol,  xii.  pp.  204-58  [555  B].  See  also  his  book  on  Hypnotism, 
pp.  425-32- 


HYPNOTISM  155 

the  cure  of  the  victims  of  morphia,  we  may  say  with  truth  that  there  we 
have  seen  as  tremendous  a  moral  lift  —  as  sudden  an  elevation  from  utter 
baseness  to  at  least  normal  living  —  as  can  be  anywhere  presented  to  us. 

Here,  then,  the  question  arises  as  to  the  possible  range  of  such  sudden 
reformations.  Did  we  succeed  with  the  morphinomaniac  only  because 
his  was  a  junctional,  and  not  an  organic,  degradation? 

And  may  it  not  be  a  much  harder  task  to  create  honesty,  purity,  un- 
selfishness in  a  brain  whose  very  conformation  must  keep  the  spirit  that 
thinks  through  it  nearly  on  the  level  of  the  brute?  The  question  is  of 
the  highest  psychological  interest;  the  answer,  though  as  yet  rudimentary, 
is  unexpectedly  encouraging.  The  examples  given  in  Appendix  V.  B 
show  that  if  the  subject  is  hypnotisable,  and  if  hypnotic  suggestion  be 
applied  with  sufficient  persistency  and  skill,  no  depth  of  previous  base- 
ness and  foulness  need  prevent  the  man  or  woman  whom  we  charge  with 
" moral  insanity,"  or  stamp  as  a  "criminal-born,"  from  rising  into  a  state 
where  he  or  she  can  work  steadily,  and  render  services  useful  to  the  com- 
munity.1 

1  purposely  limit  my  assertion  to  these  words.  We  must  still  work 
within  the  bounds  of  natural  capacity.  Just  as  we  cannot  improvise  a 
genius,  we  cannot  improvise  a  saint.  But  what  experience  seems  to  show 
is  that  we  can  select  from  the  lowest  and  poorest  range  of  feelings  and 
faculties  enough  of  sound  feeling,  enough  of  helpful  faculty,  to  keep  the 
man  in  a  position  of  moral  stability,  and  capable  of  falling  in  with  the 
common  labours  of  his  kind. 

And  here  we  approach  a  point  of  much  interest.  Hypnotic  suggestion 
or  self-suggestion  is  not  an  agency  which  stands  wholly  alone.  It  melts 
into  the  suasion  of  ordinary  life.  Ministers  of  religion  as  well  as  physi- 
cians have  always  wielded  with  authority  the  suasive  power.  From  the 
crude  animistic  dances  and  ceremonies  of  the  savage  up  to  the  "missions" 
and  "revivals"  in  English  and  American  churches  and  chapels,  we  find 
sudden  and  exciting  impressions  on  mind  and  sense  called  into  play  for 
the  purpose  of  producing  religious  and  moral  change.2  Among  the  lower 
races  especially  these  exciting  reunions  often  involve  both  hysterical  and 
hypnotic  phenomena.  There  are  sometimes  convulsive  accesses  and 
there  is  sometimes  the  milder  phenomenon  of  a  deep  restorative  sleep. 
The  influence  exerted  upon  the  convert  is  intermediate  between  hypnotic 

*See  also  the  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  January  1889,  September  1890,  November 
1886,  November  1888,  for  cases  reported  by  Liebeault,  Berillon,  Bernheim,  and  Voisin. 

2  See  Mr.  Fryer's  paper  on  "The  Welsh  Revival  of  1904-5,"  in  Proceedings 
S.P.R.,  vol.  xix.  p.  80. 


156  CHAPTER   V 

artifice,  dependent  on  trance-states  for  access  to  subliminal  plasticity, 
and  ordinary  moral  suasion,  addressed  primarily  to  ordinary  waking 
reason. 

Let  us  pause  here  to  consider  the  point  which  we  have  already  reached. 
We  began  by  defining  hypnotism  as  the  empirical  development  of  the  sleep- 
ing phase  of  man's  personality.  In  that  sleeping  phase  the  most  con- 
spicuous element — the  most  obvious  function  of  the  subliminal  self 
—  is  the  repair  of  wasted  tissues,  the  physical,  and  therefore  also  largely 
the  moral,  refreshment  and  rejuvenation  of  the  tired  organism. 

But  we  found  reason  to  believe  that  the  subliminal  self  has  other  func- 
tions to  fulfil  during  sleep.  Those  other  functions  are  concerned  in  some 
unknown  way  with  the  spiritual  world;  and  the  indication  of  their  exer- 
cise is  given  by  the  sporadic  occurrence,  in  the  sleeping  phase,  of  super- 
normal phenomena.  Such  phenomena,  as  we  shall  presently  see,  occur 
also  at  various  points  in  hypnotic  practice.  To  them  we  must  now  turn, 
if  our  account  of  the  phenomena  of  induced  somnambulism  is  to  be 
complete. 

Yet  here,  in  order  to  give  completeness  to  our  intended  review,  we 
shall  need  a  certain  apparent  extension  of  the  scope  of  this  chapter.  We 
shall  need  to  consider  a  group  of  cases  which  might  have  been  introduced 
at  various  points  in  our  scheme,  but  which  are  perhaps  richest  in  their 
illustrations  of  the  supernormal  phenomena  of  hypnotism. 

Spontaneous  somnambulisms ,  —  those  crude  uprushes  of  incoherent 
subliminal  faculty  which  sometimes  break  through  the  surface  of  sleep, 
: —  seem  to  occupy  a  kind  of  midway  position  among  the  various  phenomena 
through  which  our  inquiry  has  thus  far  carried  us. 

The  somnambulism  often  starts  as  an  exaggerated  dream;  it  develops 
into  a  kind  of  secondary  personality.  The  thoughts  and  impulses  which 
the  upheaval  raises  into  manifestations  —  the  psychical  output  —  resemble 
sometimes  the  inspirations  of  genius,  sometimes  the  follies  of  hysteria. 
And,  finally,  the  spontaneous  sleep-waking  state  itself  is  manifestly  akin 
to  hypnosis,  —  is  sometimes  actually  interchangeable  with  the  induced 
somnambulisms  of  the  hypnotic  trance.  The  chain  of  memory  which 
repeated  spontaneous  somnambulisms  gradually  form,  —  while  lying 
quite  outside  the  primary  or  waking  memory,  —  will  often  be  found  to 
form  a  part  of  the  hypnotic  memory,  which  gradually  accretes  in  similar 
fashion  from  repeated  hypnosis. 

For  one  form  of  sleep-waking  capacity  we  are  already  prepared  by 
what  has  been  said  in  Chapter  IV.  of  the  solution  of  problems  in  sleep. 
This  is  one  of  the  ways  in  which  we  can  watch  the  gradual  merging  of  a 


HYPNOTISM  157 

vivid  dream  into  a  definite  somnambulic  act.  The  solution  of  a  problem 
(as  we  have  seen)  may  present  itself  merely  as  a  sentence  or  a  diagram, 
constructed  in  dream  and  remembered  on  waking.  Or  the  sleeper  (as  in 
various  cases  familiar  in  text-books)  may  rise  from  bed  and  write  out  the 
chain  of  reasoning,  or  the  sermon,  or  whatever  it  may  be.  Or  again,  in 
rarer  cases  the  somnambulic  output  may  take  the  form  of  oratory,  and 
edifying  discourses  may  be  delivered  by  a  preacher  whom  no  amount  of 
shaking  or  pinching  will  silence  or,  generally,  even  interrupt.  This,  so 
to  speak,  is  genius  with  a  vengeance;  this  is  a  too  persistent  uprush  of  sub- 
liminal zeal,  co-operating  even  out  of  season  with  the  hortatory  instincts 
of  the  waking  self. 

The  group  of  sleep-waking  cases  which  we  may  next  discuss  illustrates 
a  natural  evolution  of  the  faculty  of  the  sleeping  phase  of  personality. 
The  subliminal  self,  exercising  in  sleep  a  profounder  influence  over  the 
organism  than  the  supraliminal  can  exert,  may  also  be  presumed  to 
possess  a  profounder  knowledge  of  the  organism  —  of  its  present,  and 
therefore  of  its  future  —  than  the  supraliminal  self  enjoys. 

There  are  cases  *  in  which  the  somnambulic  personality  is  discerned 
throughout  as  a  wiser  self  —  advising  a  treatment,  or  at  least  foreseeing 
future  developments  of  the  disease  with  great  particularity.  Of  course, 
in  such  a  case  prediction  is  often  simply  a  form  of  suggestion;  the  symptom 
occurs  simply  because  it  has  been  ordained  beforehand.  In  the  case  of 
cures  of  long-standing  disease  the  sagacity  which  foresees  probably  co- 
operates with  the  control  which  directs  the  changes  in  the  organism. 

The  next  stage  is  a  very  important  one.  We  come  to  the  manifesta- 
tion in  spontaneous  sleep-waking  states  of  manifestly  supernormal  powers, 

—  sometimes  of  telepathy,  but  more  commonly  of  clairvoyance  or  telaes- 
thesia.  Unfortunately,  these  cases  have  been,  as  a  rule,  very  insufficiently 
observed.  Still,  it  appears  that  in  spontaneous  somnambulism  there  is 
frequently  some  indication  of  supernormal  powers,  though  the  observers 

—  even  if  competent  in  other  ways  —  have  generally  neglected  to  take 
account  of  the  hyperesthesia  and  heightening  of  memory  and  of  general 
intelligence  that  often  accompany  the  state. 

Before  leaving  this  subject  of  spontaneous  sleep-waking  states  I  ought 
briefly  to  mention  a  form  of  trance  with  which  we  shall  have  to  deal  more 
at  length  in  a  later  chapter.  I  speak  of  trance  ascribed  to  spirit-possession. 
As  will  be  seen,  I  myself  fully  adopt  this  explanation  in  a  small  number 

1  See  Puysegur,  Recherches  sur  V Homme  dans  le  Somnambulisme  (Paris,  181 1); 
Petetin,  Electricite  Animate  (Paris,  1808);  Despine,  Observations  de  Medecine  Pra- 
tique (1838),  and  Journal  S.P.R.,  vol.  ix.  p.  333. 


158  CHAPTER   V 

of  the  cases  where  it  is  put  forward.  Yet  I  do  not  think  that  spirit-agency 
is  necessarily  present  in  all  the  trances  even  of  a  true  subject  of  possession. 
With  all  the  leading  sensitives  —  with  D.  D.  Home,  with  Stainton  Moses, 
with  Mrs.  Piper  and  with  others  —  I  think  that  the  depth  of  the  trance 
has  varied  greatly  on  different  occasions,  and  that  sometimes  the  sub- 
liminal self  of  the  sensitive  is  vaguely  simulating,  probably  in  an  uncon- 
scious dream-like  way,  an  external  intelligence.  This  hypothesis  suggested 
itself  to  several  observers  in  the  case  especially  of  D.  D.  Home,  with  whom 
the  moments  of  strong  characterisation  of  a  departed  personality,  though 
far  from  rare,  were  yet  scattered  among  tracts  of  dreamy  improvisation 
which  suggested  only  the  utterance  of  Home's  subliminal  self.  However 
we  choose  to  interpret  these  trances,  they  should  be  mentioned  in  com- 
parison with  all  the  other  sleep- waking  states.  They  probably  form  the 
best  transition  between  those  shallow  somnambulisms,  on  the  one  hand, 
which  are  little  more  than  a  vivid  dream,  and  those  profound  trances, 
on  the  other  hand,  in  which  the  native  spirit  quits,  as  nearly  as  may  be, 
the  sensitive's  organism,  and  is  for  the  time  replaced,  as  nearly  as  may 
be,  by  an  invading  spirit  from  that  unseen  world. 

This  brief  review  of  non-hypnotic  somnambulisms  has  not  been  with- 
out its  lessons.  It  has  shown  us  that  the  supernormal  powers  which  we 
have  traced  in  each  of  the  preceding  chapters  in  turn  do  also  show  them- 
selves, in  much  the  same  fashion,  in  spontaneous  sleep-waking  states  of 
various  types.  We  must  now  inquire  how  far  they  occur  in  sleep- waking 
states  experimentally  induced. 

And  here  the  very  fact  of  induction  suggests  to  us  a  question  specially 
applicable  to  the  hypnotic  state  itself.  Is  hypnosis  ever  supernormally 
induced?  Can  any  one,  that  is  to  say,  be  thrown  into  hypnotic  trance 
by  a  telepathic  impact?  or,  to  phrase  it  more  generally,  by  any  influence, 
inexplicable  by  existing  science,  which  may  pass  from  man  to  man? 

In  the  first  place  one  may  say  that  of  the  anti-mesmeric  schools  of 
opinion,  the  " purely  physiological"  school  has  on  the  whole  failed,  the 
"purely  suggestive"  school  has  triumphantly  succeeded.  The  school  of 
Nancy,  reinforced  by  hypnotists  all  over  Europe,  has  abundantly  proved 
that  "pure  suggestion"  (whatever  that  be)  is  the  determining  cause  of  a 
very  large  proportion  of  hypnotic  phenomena.  That  is  beyond  dispute; 
and  the  two  other  schools,  the  "pure  physiologists"  and  the  "mesmerists" 
alike,  must  now  manage  to  prove  as  best  they  can  that  their  favourite 
methods  play  any  real  part  in  the  induction  of  any  case  of  hypnosis.  For 
to  the  pure  suggestionist,  monotonous  stimulation  and  mesmeric  passes 
are  alike  in  themselves  inert,  are  alike  mere  facilitations  of  suggestion, 


HYPNOTISM  159 

acting  not  directly  on  the  patient's  organism,  but  rather  on  his  state  of 
mental  expectation. 

I  reply  that  there  is  absolutely  no  need  to  go  as  far  as  this.  In 
admitting  suggestion  as  a  vera  causa  of  hypnosis,  we  are  recognising 
a  cause  which,  if  we  really  try  to  grasp  it,  resolves  itself  into  sub- 
liminal operation,  brought  about  we  know  not  how.  So  far,  therefore, 
from  negativing  and  excluding  any  obscure  and  perhaps  supernormal 
agency,  the  suggestion  theory  leaves  the  way  for  any  such  agency 
broadly  open.  Some  unknown  cause  or  other  must  determine  whether 
each  suggestion  is  to  "take"  or  no;  and  that  unknown  cause  must 
presumably  act  somehow  upon  the  subliminal  self.  We  should  have 
something  like  a  real  explanation  of  suggestion,  if  we  could  show 
that  a  suggestion's  success  or  failure  was  linked  with  some  telepathic 
impact  from  the  suggester's  mind,  or  with  some  mesmeric  effluence 
from  his  person. 

I  know  well  that  in  many  cases  we  can  establish  no  link  of  this 
kind.  In  Bernheim's  rapid  hospital  practice  there  seems  no  oppor- 
tunity to  bring  the  hypnotist's  will,  or  the  hypnotiser's  organism,  into 
any  effective  rapport  with  the  subject.  Rather,  the  subject  seems  to 
do  all  that  is  wanted  for  himself  almost  instantaneously.  He  often 
falls  into  the  suggested  slumber  almost  before  the  word  "Dortnez/" 
has  left  the  physician's  mouth.  But  on  the  other  hand,  this  is  by  no 
means  the  only  type  of  hypnotic  success.  Just  as  in  the  mesmeric 
days,  so  also  now  there  are  continual  instances  where  much  more 
than  the  mere  command  has  been  needed  for  effective  hypnotisation. 
Persistence,  proximity,  passes  —  all  these  prove  needful  still  in  the 
practice  even  of  physicians  who  place  no  faith  at  all  in  the  old  mesmeric 
theory. 

The  fact  is,  that  since  the  days  of  those  old  controversies  between 
mesmerists  proper  and  hypnotists  proper,  the  conditions  of  the  contro- 
versy have  greatly  changed.  The  supposed  mesmeric  effluence  was  then 
treated  as  an  entirely  isolated,  yet  an  entirely  physiological  phenomenon. 
There  was  supposed  to  be  a  kind  of  radiation  or  infection  passing  from 
one  nervous  system  to  another.  It  was  of  this  that  Cuvier  (for  instance) 
was  convinced;  it  was  this  theory  which  Elliotson  defended  in  the  Zoist 
with  a  wealth  of  illustration  and  argument  to  which  little  justice  has  even 
yet  been  done.  Yet  it  was  hard  to  prove  effluence  as  opposed  to  suggestion, 
because  where  there  was  proximity  enough  for  effluence  to  be  effective 
there  was  also  proximity  enough  for  suggestion  to  be  possible.  Only  in 
some  few  circumstances,  —  such  as  Esdaile's  mesmerisation  of  a  blind 


160  CHAPTER   V 

man  over  a  wall,1  —  was  it  possible  to  claim  that  the  mesmeric  trance  had 
been  induced  without  any  suspicion  whatever  on  the  subject's  part  that 
the  mesmerist  was  trying  to  entrance  him. 

Since  those  days,  however,  the  evidence  for  telepathy  —  for  psychical 
influence  from  a  distance  —  has  grown  to  goodly  proportions.  A  new 
form  of  experiment  has  been  found  possible,  from  which  the  influence 
of  suggestion  can  be  entirely  excluded.  It  has  now,  as  I  shall  presently 
try  to  show,  been  actually  proved  that  the  hypnotic  trance  can  be  induced 
from  a  distance  so  great,  and  with  precautions  so  complete,  that  telepathy 
or  some  similar  supernormal  influence  is  the  only  efficient  cause  which  can 
be  conceived. 

I  subjoin  one  of  a  series  of  experiments  in  this  "telepathic  hypnotism." 
(See  Appendix  V.  C.)  These  experiments  are  not  easy  to  manage,  since 
it  is  essential  at  once  to  prevent  the  subject  from  suspecting  that  the  ex- 
periment is  being  tried,  and  also  to  provide  for  his  safety  in  the  event  of  its 
success.  In  Dr.  Gibert's  experiment,  for  instance,  it  was  a  responsible 
matter  to  bring  this  elderly  woman  in  her  dream-like  state  through  the 
streets  of  Havre.  It  was  needful  to  provide  her  with  an  unnoticed  escort ; 
and,  in  fact,  several  persons  had  to  devote  themselves  for  some  hours  to 
a  single  experiment. 

I  have  cited  first  this  experiment  at  a  distance,  without  attempting 
to  analyse  the  nature  of  the  suggestion  given  or  power  employed  by  the 
hypnotist.  Of  course  it  is  plain  that  if  one  can  thus  influence  unexpectant 
persons  from  a  distance  there  must  be  sometimes  some  kind  of  power 
actually  exercised  by  the  hypnotiser;  —  something  beyond  the  mere  tact 
and  impressiveness  of  address,  which  is  all  that  Bernheim  and  his  followers 
admit  or  claim.  Evidence  of  this  has  been  afforded  by  the  occasional 
production  of  organic  and  other  effects  in  hypnotised  subjects  by  the 
unuttered  will  of  the  operator  when  near  them.  The  ingenious  experi- 
ments of  Gurney2  in  the  production  of  local  rigidity  and  anaesthesia  were 
undertaken  to  test  whether  the  agency  employed  were  more  in  the  nature 
of  an  effort  of  will  or, — as  the  early  mesmerists  claimed, — of  an  emission 
of  actual  "mesmeric  fluid "  or  physical  effluence  of  some  sort.  Gurney 
was  inclined  to  think  that  his  results  could  not  be  explained  solely  by 
mental  suggestion  or  telepathy,  because  the  physical  proximity  of  the 
operator's  hand  seemed  necessary  to  produce  them,  and  he  thought  it 
probable  that  they  were  due  to  a  direct  nervous  influence,  exercised  through 

1  Natural  and  Mesmeric  Clairvoyance,  pp.  227-28;  quoted  in  Phantasms  of  the 
Living,  vol.  i.  p.  88. 

2  See  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  v.  (1888),  pp.  14-17.    [569  A.] 


HYPNOTISM  161 

the  hand  of  the  operator,  but  not  perceptible  through  the  ordinary  sensory 
channels.  Mrs.  Sidgwick's  experiments  *  of  the  same  kind,  however, 
in  which  success  was  obtained  when  the  operator  was  standing  with  folded 
arms  several  feet  away  from  the  subject,  removed  Gurney's  main  objec- 
tion to  the  telepathic  explanation.  The  fact  that  a  thick  sheet  of  glass 
over  the  subject's  hands  did  not  interfere  with  the  results  also  afforded 
some  presumption  against  the  hypothesis  of  a  physical  influence;  and 
Mrs.  Sidgwick  pointed  out  that  the  delicate  discrimination  involved  in 
the  specific  limitations  of  the  effects  is  much  more  easily  attributable  to 
mental  suggestion,  through  the  action  of  the  operator's  mind  on  that  of 
the  subject,  than  to  any  direct  physical  influence  on  the  latter's  nerves. 

It  is,  however,  in  my  view,  by  no  means  improbable  that  effluences, 
as  yet  unknown  to  science,  but  perceptible  by  sensitive  persons  as  the 
telepathic  impulse  is  perceptible,  should  radiate  from  living  human  organ- 
isms. I  see  no  reason  to  assume  that  the  varied  and  concordant  state- 
ments made  by  patients  in  the  Zoist  and  early  mesmeric  works  merely 
reflect  subjective  fancies.  I  have  myself  performed  and  witnessed  ex- 
periments on  intelligent  persons  expressly  designed  to  test  whether  or 
no  the  sensation  following  the  hand  was  a  mere  fancy.  It  seems  to  me 
hardly  likely  that  persons  who  have  never  experienced  other  purely  sub- 
jective sensations,  and  who  are  expressly  alive  to  the  question  here  at 
issue,  should  nevertheless  again  and  again  feel  the  classical  tingling,  etc., 
along  the  track  of  the  hypnotiser's  passes  without  any  real  external  cause. 
To  assume  that  all  which  they  feel  is  a  mere  result  of  suggestion,  may 
be  a  premature  attempt  at  simplifying  modes  of  supernormal  communi- 
cation which,  in  fact,  are  probably  not  simpler  but  more  complex  than 
any  idea  which  we  have  as  yet  formed  of  them. 

And  here  at  last  we  arrive  at  what  is  in  reality  the  most  interesting 
group  of  inquiries  connected  with  the  hypnotic  trance. 

We  have  just  seen  that  the  subliminal  state  of  the  hypnotised  subject 
may  be  approached  by  ways  subtler  than  mere  verbal  suggestion  —  by 
telepathic  impacts  and  perhaps  by  some  effluence  of  kindred  supernormal 
type.  We  have  now  to  trace  the  supernormal  elements  in  the  hypnotic 
response.  Whether  those  elements  are  most  readily  excited  by  a  directly 
subliminal  appeal,  or  whether  they  depend  mainly  on  the  special  powers 
innate  in  the  hypnotised  person,  we  can  as  yet  but  imperfectly  guess.  We 
can  be  pretty  sure,  at  any  rate,  that  they  are  not  often  evoked  in  answer 
to  any  rapid  and,  so  to  say,  perfunctory  hypnotic  suggestion;  they  do  not 
spring  up  in  miscellaneous  hospital  practice;  they  need  an  education  and 
1  See  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  viii.  pp.  536-596.  [569  B.] 


i62  CHAPTER  V 

a  development  which  is  hardly  bestowed  on  one  hypnotised  subject  in  a 
hundred.  The  first  stage  of  this  response  lies  in  a  subliminal  relation 
established  between  the  subject  and  his  hypnotiser,  and  manifesting  itself 
in  what  is  called  rapport,  or  in  community  oj  sensation.  The  earlier  stages 
of  rapport  —  conditions  when  the  subject  apparently  hears  or  feels  the 
hypnotiser  only,  and  so  forth  —  arise  probably  from  mere  self-suggestion 
or  from  the  suggestions  of  the  operator,  causing  the  conscious  attention 
of  the  subject  to  be  exclusively  directed  to  him.  Indications  of  the  pos- 
sible development  of  a  real  link  between  the  two  persons  may  rather  be 
found  in  the  cases  where  there  is  provable  community  of  sensation,  —  the 
hypnotised  subject  tasting  or  feeling  what  the  hypnotiser  (unknown  to 
the  subject)  does  actually  at  that  moment  taste  or  feel. 

We  have  thus  brought  the  hypnotised  subject  up  to  the  point  of  know- 
ing supernormally,  at  any  rate,  the  superficial  sensations  of  his  hypno- 
tiser. From  that  starting-point,  —  or,  at  any  rate,  from  some  super- 
normal perception  of  narrow  range, — his  cognition  widens  and  deepens. 
He  may  seem  to  discern  some  picture  of  the  past,  and  may  retrace  the 
history  of  some  object  which  he  holds  in  his  hand,  or  he  may  seem  to  wander 
in  spirit  over  the  habitable  globe,  and  to  bring  back  knowledge  of  present 
facts  discernible  by  no  other  means.  Perhaps  he  seems  to  behold  the 
future,  predicting  oftenest  the  organic  history  of  some  person  near  him; 
but  sometimes  discerning,  as  it  were  pictorially,  scattered  events  to  which 
we  can  guess  at  no  attainable  clue.  For  all  this  there  is  already  more 
of  positive  evidence  than  is  generally  realised;  nor  (I  must  repeat)  is  there 
any  negative  evidence  which  might  lead  us  to  doubt  that  further  care  in 
developing  hypnotic  subjects  may  not  at  any  moment  be  rewarded  in  the 
same  way.  We  have  here,  in  fact,  a  successful  branch  of  investigation 
which  has  of  late  years  been  practically  dropped  from  mere  inattention 
to  what  has  been  done  already,  —  mere  diversion  of  effort  to  the  easier 
and  more  practical  triumphs  of  suggestive  therapeutics.1 

The  next  group  of  cases  to  which  I  pass  relate  chiefly  to  knowledge 
of  present  facts.  I  may  first  refer  to  some  experiments  in  thought-trans- 
ference with  hypnotised  persons2  analogous  to  the  experiments  with  per- 
sons in  a  normal  condition  recorded  in  my  next  chapter.     Here  the  subject 

1  Beginning  with  cases  partly  retrocognitive,  the  reader  is  referred  to  Proceedings 
S.P.R.,  vol.  vii.  pp.  30-99;  Zoist,  vol.  vii.  pp.  95-101  [572  A  and  B]. 

2  The  longest  and  most  important  series  of  experiments  in  thought-transference 
with  hypnotised  subjects,  carried  out  by  members  of  the  S.P.R.,  are  those  of  Professor 
and  Mrs.  Sidgwick.  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  vi.  pp.  128-70;  and  vol.  viii.  pp.  536-96 
[573  A]. 


HYPNOTISM  163 

seems  simply  to  become  aware  telepathically  of  the  thoughts  of  his  hyp- 
notiser,  the  hypnotic  condition  perhaps  facilitating  the  transfer  of  the 
impression.  Next  come  the  cases  of  what  used  to  be  called  "travelling 
clairvoyance"  in  the  hypnotic  state.  These  are  more  like  the  partially 
retrocognitive  cases  in  that  they  cannot  be  traced  with  certainty  to  the 
contemporary  thoughts  of  any  particular  person.  In  travelling  clairvoy- 
ance we  seem  to  have  a  development  of  "  invasive  dreams,"  —  of  those 
visions  of  the  night  in  which  the  sleeper  seems  to  visit  distant  scenes  and 
to  bring  back  intelligence  otherwise  unattainable.  These  distant  hyp- 
notic visions  seem  to  develop  out  of  thought-transference;  thus  the  subject 
may  discern  an  imaginary  picture  as  it  is  conceived  in  the  hypnotiser's 
mind.  Thence  he  may  pass  on  and  discern  a  true  contemporaneous 
scene,1  unknown  to  any  one  present,  and  in  some  few  cases  there  is  an 
element  of  apparent  prevision  in  the  impression.2 

Our  survey  of  that  important,  though  inchoate,  appeal  to  the  sub- 
liminal self  which  passes  under  the  name  of  hypnotism  is  now  nearly  as 
complete  —  in  its  brief  sketchy  form  —  as  the  present  state  of  knowledge 
permits. 

I  have  attempted  to  trace  the  inevitable  rise  of  hypnotism  —  its  neces- 
sary development  out  of  the  spontaneous  phenomena  which  preceded 
and  which  might  so  naturally  have  suggested  it.  I  have  shown,  never- 
theless, its  almost  accidental  initiation,  and  then  its  rapid  development 
in  ways  which  no  single  experimenter  has  ever  been  able  to  correlate  or 
to  foresee.  I  am  bound  to  say  something  further  as  to  its  prospect  in  the 
future.  A  systematic  appeal  to  the  deeper  powers  in  man  —  conceived 
with  the  generality  with  which  I  have  here  conceived  it  —  cannot  remain 
a  mere  appanage  of  medical  practice.  It  must  be  fitted  on  in  some  way 
to  the  whole  serious  life  of  man;  it  must  present  itself  to  him  as  a  develop- 
ment of  faiths  and  instincts  which  lie  already  deep  in  his  heart.  In  other 
words,  there  must  needs  be  some  scheme  oj  self-suggestion,  —  some  general 
theory  which  can  give  the  individual  a  basis  for  his  appeal,  whether  he 
regards  that  appeal  as  directed  to  an  intelligence  outside  himself  or  to  his 
own  inherent  faculties  and  informing  soul.  These  helps  to  the  power 
of  generalisation  —  to  the  feeling  of  confidence  —  we  must  consider 
now.  * 

The  schemes  of  self-suggestion  which  have  actually  been  found  effective 
have  covered,  not  unnaturally,  a  range  as  wide  as  all  the  superstition  and 

1  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  vii.  pp.  199-220;  Dr.  Fahnestock's  Statuvolism,  pp. 
117-35,  221-32  [573  B,  C  and  D]. 

2Zoist,  vol.  xii.  pp.  249-52  [573  F]. 


i64  CHAPTER   V 

all  the  religion  of  men.  That  is  to  say  that  each  form  of  supernatural 
belief  in  turn  has  been  utilised  as  a  means  of  securing  that  urgently-needed 
temporal  blessing  —  relief  from  physical  pain.  We  see  the  same  tendency 
running  through  fetichistic,  polytheistic,  monotheistic  forms  of  belief. 
Beginning  with  fetichistic  peoples,  we  observe  that  charms  of  various 
kinds,  —  inert  objects,  arbitrary  gestures,  meaningless  words,  —  have 
probably  been  actually  the  most  general  means  which  our  race  has  em- 
ployed for  the  cure  of  disease.  We  know  how  long  some  forms  of  prim- 
itive belief  persisted  in  medicine,  —  as,  for  example,  the  doctrine  of  like- 
nesses, or  the  cure  of  a  disease  by  some  object  supposed  to  resemble  its 
leading  symptom.  What  is,  however,  even  more  remarkable  is  the  efficacy 
which  charms  still  continue  in  some  cases  to  possess,  even  when  they  are 
worn  merely  as  an  experiment  in  self-suggestion  by  a  person  who  is  per- 
fectly well  aware  of  their  intrinsic  futility.  Experiments  on  this  subject 
seem  to  show  that  the  mere  continual  contact  of  some  small  unfamiliar 
object  will  often  act  as  a  reminder  to  the  subliminal  self,  and  keep,  at  any 
rate,  some  nervous  disturbances  in  check.  Until  one  reads  these  modern 
examples,  one  can  hardly  realise  how  veritably  potent  for  good  may  have 
been  the  savage  amulet,  the  savage  incantation. 

The  transition  from  fetichistic  to  polytheistic  conceptions  of  cure  is, 
of  course,  a  gradual  one.  It  may  be  said  to  begin  when  curative  proper- 
ties are  ascribed  to  objects  not  arbitrarily,  nor  on  account  of  the  look  of 
the  objects  themselves,  but  on  account  of  their  having  been  blessed  or 
handled  by  some  divine  or  semi-divine  personage,  or  having  formed  part 
of  his  body  or  surroundings  during  some  incarnation.  Thus  Lourdes 
water,  bottled  and  exported,  is  still  held  to  possess  curative  virtue  on  ac- 
count of  the  Virgin's  original  blessing  bestowed  upon  the  Lourdes  spring. 
But  generally  the  influence  of  the  divine  or  divinised  being  is  more  directly 
exercised,  as  in  oracles,  dreams,  invisible  touches,  or  actual  theophanies, 
or  appearances  of  the  gods  to  the  adoring  patient.  It  will  be  seen  as  we 
proceed  how  amply  the  tradition  of  Lourdes  has  incorporated  these 
ancient  aids  to  faith. 

But  at  this  point  our  modern  experience  suggests  to  us  a  remarkable 
interpolation  in  the  antique  chain  of  ideas.  It  is  now  alleged  that  de- 
parted persons  need  not  exert  influence  through  their  dead  bones  alone, 
nor  yet  only  by  their  supposed  intermediacy  with  higher  powers.  There 
intervenes,  in  fact,  the  whole  topic  of  spirit-healing,  —  which  cannot, 
however,  be  treated  fully  here. 

Next  in  the  ascending  scale  from  polytheism  to  monotheism  we  come 
to  the  " Miracles  of  Lourdes,"  to  which  I  have  just  alluded,  where  the 


HYPNOTISM  165 

supposed  healer  is  the  Virgin  Mary,  reverenced  as  semi-divine.  This 
form  of  belief,  however,  retains  (as  has  been  said)  some  affinity  with 
fetichism,  since  the  actual  water  from  the  Lourdes  spring,  supposed  to  have 
been  blessed  by  the  Virgin,  is  an  important  factor  in  the  cures.1 

Much  further  removed  from  primitive  belief  is  the  appeal  made  by 
Christian  scientists  to  the  aid  of  Jesus  Christ ;  —  either  as  directly  answer- 
ing prayer,  or  as  enabling  the  worshippers  to  comprehend  the  infinite 
love  on  which  the  universe  is  based,  and  in  face  of  which  pain  and  sick- 
ness become  a  vain  imagination  or  even  a  sheer  nonentity.  To  the 
readers  of  this  chapter,  however,  there  will  be  nothing  surprising  in  my 
own  inclination  to  include  all  these  efforts  at  health  under  the  general 
category  of  schemes  of  self-suggestion. 

In  my  view  they  are  but  crude  attempts  at  a  practical  realisation  of 
the  essential  truth  that  it  is  possible  by  a  right  disposition  of  our  own 
minds  to  draw  energy  from  an  environing  world  of  spiritual  life. 

It  seems,  at  least,  that  no  real  explanation  of  hypnotic  vitalisa- 
tion  can,  in  fact,  be  given  except  upon  the  general  theory  supported  in  this 
work  —  the  theory  that  a  world  of  spiritual  life  exists,  an  environment 
profounder  than  those  environments  of  matter  and  ether  which  in  a  sense 
we  know.  Let  us  look  at  this  hypothesis  a  little  more  closely.  When  we 
say  that  an  organism  exists  in  a  certain  environment,  we  mean  that  its 
energy,  or  some  part  thereof,  forms  an  element  in  a  certain  system  of  cosmic 
forces,  which  represents  some  special  modification  of  the  ultimate  energy. 
The  life  of  the  organism  consists  in  its  power  of  interchanging  energy  with 
its  environment,  —  of  appropriating  by  its  own  action  some  fragment 
of  that  pre-existent  and  limitless  Power.  We  human  beings  exist  in  the 
first  place  in  a  world  of  matter,  whence  we  draw  the  obvious  sustenance 
of  our  bodily  functions. 

We  exist  also  in  a  world  of  ether;  —  that  is  to  say,  we  are  constructed 
to  respond  to  a  system  of  laws,  —  ultimately  continuous,  no  doubt,  with 
the  laws  of  matter,  but  affording  a  new,  a  generalised,  a  profounder  con- 
ception of  the  Cosmos.  So  widely  different,  indeed,  is  this  new  aspect  of 
things  from  the  old,  that  it  is  common  to  speak  of  the  ether  as  a  newly- 
known  environment.  On  this  environment  our  organic  existence  depends 
as  absolutely  as  on  the  material  environment,  although  less  obviously. 
In  ways  which  we  cannot  fathom,  the  ether  is  at  the  foundation  of  our 
physical  being.  Perceiving  heat,  light,  electricity,  we  do  but  recognise 
in  certain  conspicuous  ways,  —  as  in  perceiving  the  "X  rays"  we  recognise 

1  See  "Mind-Cure,  Faith-Cure,  and  the  Miracles  of  Lourdes,"  by  A.  T.  Myers, 
M.D.,  F.R.C.P.,  and  F.  W.  H.  Myers,  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  ix.  pp.  160-210. 


166  CHAPTER   V 

in  a  way  less  conspicuous,  —  the  pervading  influence  of  etherial  vibrations 
which  in  range  and  variety  far  transcend  our  capacity  of  response. 

Within,  beyond,  the  world  of  ether,  —  as  a  still  profounder,  still  more 
generalised  aspect  of  the  Cosmos,  —  must  lie,  as  I  believe,  the  world  of 
spiritual  life.  That  the  world  of  spiritual  life  does  not  depend  upon  the 
existence  of  the  material  world  I  hold  as  now  proved  by  actual  evidence. 
That  it  is  in  some  way  continuous  with  the  world  of  ether  I  can  well  sup- 
pose. But  for  our  minds  there  must  needs  be  a  " critical  point"  in  any 
such  imagined  continuity;  so  that  the  world  where  life  and  thought  are 
carried  on  apart  from  matter,  must  certainly  rank  again  as  a  new,  a  mete- 
therial  environment.  In  giving  it  this  name  I  expressly  imply  only  that 
from  our  human  point  of  view  it  lies  after  or  beyond  the  ether,  as  metaphysic 
lies  after  or  beyond  physics.  I  say  only  that  what  does  not  originate  in 
matter  or  in  ether  originates  there;  but  I  well  believe  that  beyond  the  ether 
there  must  be  not  one  stage  only,  but  countless  stages  in  the  infinity  of 
things. 

On  this  hypothesis  there  will  be  an  essential  concordance  between  all 
views  —  spiritual  or  materialistic  —  which  ascribe  to  any  direction  of 
attention  or  will  any  practical  effect  upon  the  human  organism.  "The 
prayer  of  faith  shall  save  the  sick,"  says  St.  James.  "There  is  nothing 
in  hypnotism  but  suggestion,"  says  Bernheim.  In  my  clumsier  language 
these  two  statements  (setting'  aside  a  possible  telepathic  element  in  St. 
James'  words)  will  be  expressible  in  identical  terms.  "There  will  be 
effective  therapeutical  or  ethical  self-suggestion  whenever  by  any  artifice 
subliminal  attention  to  a  bodily  function  or  to  a  moral  purpose  is  carried 
to  some  unknown  pitch  of  intensity  which  draws  energy  from  the  mete- 
therial  world." 

A  great  practical  question  remains,  to  which  St.  James'  words  supply 
a  direct,  though  perhaps  an  inadequate  answer,  while  Bernheim 's  words 
supply  no  answer  at  all. 

What  is  this  saving  faith  to  be,  and  how  is  it  to  be  attained?  Can 
we  find  any  sure  way  of  touching  the  spring  which  moves  us  so  potently, 
at  once  from  without  and  from  within?  Can  we  propose  any  form 
of  self-suggestion  effective  for  all  the  human  race?  any  controlling 
thought  on  which  all  alike  can  fix  that  long-sought  mountain-moving 
faith? 

Assuredly  no  man  can  extemporise  such  a  faith  as  this.  Whatever 
form  it  may  ultimately  take,  it  must  begin  as  the  purification,  the  intensi- 
fication, of  the  purest,  the  intensest  beliefs  to  which  human  minds  have 
yet  attained.     It  must  invoke  the  whole  strength  of  all  philosophies,  of  all 


HYPNOTISM  167 

religions;  —  not  indeed  the  special  arguments  or  evidence  adduced  for 
each,  which  lie  outside  my  present  theme,  but  all  the  spiritual  energy  by 
which  in  truth  they  live.  And  so  far  as  this  purpose  goes,  of  drawing 
strength  from  the  unseen,  if  one  faith  is  true,  all  faiths  are  true;  in  so  far 
at  least  as  human  mind  can  grasp  or  human  prayer  appropriate  the 
unknown  metetherial  energy,  the  inscrutable  Grace  of  God. 


CHAPTER  VI 
SENSORY  AUTOMATISM 

&\4irofX€v  ykp  Upri  8i'  iffdirrpov  iv  divly/xan. 

Each  of  the  several  lines  of  inquiry  pursued  in  the  foregoing  chapters 
has  brought  indications  of  something  transcending  sensory  experience 
in  the  reserves  of  human  faculty;  and  we  have  come  to  a  point  where  we 
need  some  further  colligating  generalisation  —  some  conception  under 
which  these  scattered  phenomena  may  be  gathered  in  their  true  kinship. 

Some  steps  at  least  towards  such  a  generalisation  the  evidence  to  be 
presented  in  these  next  chapters  may  allow  us  to  take.  Considering  to- 
gether, under  the  heading  of  sensory  and  motor  automatism,  the  whole 
range  of  that  subliminal  action  of  which  we  have  as  yet  discussed  frag- 
ments only,  we  shall  gradually  come  to  see  that  its  distinctive  faculty  of 
telepathy  or  telaesthesia  is  in  fact  an  introduction  into  a  realm  where  the 
limitations  of  organic  life  can  no  longer  be  assumed  to  persist.  Consid- 
ering, again,  the  evidence  which  shows  that  that  portion  of  the  personality 
which  exercises  these  powers  during  our  earthly  existence  does  actually 
continue  to  exercise  them  after  our  bodily  decay,  we  shall  recognise  a  rela- 
tion —  obscure  but  indisputable  —  between  the  subliminal  and  the  sur- 
viving self. 

I  begin,  then,  with  my  definition  of  automatism,  as  the  widest  term 
under  which  to  include  the  range  of  subliminal  emergences  into  ordinary 
life.  The  turbulent  uprush  and  downdraught  of  hysteria;  the  helpful 
uprushes  of  genius,  co-operating  with  supraliminal  thought;  the  profound 
and  recuperative  changes  which  follow  on  hypnotic  suggestion;  these 
have  been  described  under  their  separate  headings.  But  the  main  mass 
of  subliminal  manifestations  remains  undescribed.  I  have  dealt  little 
with  veridical  hallucinations,  not  at  all  with  automatic  writing,  nor  with 
the  utterances  of  spontaneous  trance.  The  products  of  inner  vision  or 
inner  audition  externalised  into  quasi-percepts,  —  these  form  what  I  term 
sensory  automatisms.  The  messages  conveyed  by  movement  of  limbs 
or  hand  or  tongue,  initiated  by  an  inner  motor  impulse  beyond  the 

168 


SENSORY   AUTOMATISM  169 

conscious  will  —  these  are  what  I  term  motor  automatisms.  And  I  claim 
that  when  all  these  are  surveyed  together  their  essential  analogy  will  be 
recognised  beneath  much  diversity  of  form.  They  will  be  seen  to  be 
messages  from  the  subliminal  to  the  supraliminal  self;  endeavours  —  con- 
scious or  unconscious  —  of  submerged  tracts  of  our  personality  to  present 
to  ordinary  waking  thought  fragments  of  a  knowledge  which  no  ordinary 
waking  thought  could  attain. 

I  regard  supraliminal  life  merely  as  a  privileged  case  of  personality; 
a  special  phase  of  our  personality,  which  is  easiest  for  us  to  study,  because 
it  is  simplified  for  us  by  our  ready  consciousness  of  what  is  going  on  in 
it;  yet  which  is  by  no  means  necessarily  either  central  or  prepotent,  could 
we  see  our  whole  being  in  comprehensive  view. 

Now  if  we  thus  regard  the  whole  supraliminal  personality  as  a  special 
case  of  something  much  more  extensive,  it  follows  that  we  must  similarly 
regard  all  human  faculty,  and  each  sense  severally,  as  mere  special  or 
privileged  cases  of  some  more  general  power. 

All  human  terrene  faculty  will  be  in  this  view  simply  a  selection  from 
faculty  existing  in  the  metetherial  world;  such  part  of  that  antecedent, 
even  if  not  individualised,  faculty  as  may  be  expressible  through  each 
several  human  organism. 

Each  of  our  special  senses,,  therefore,  may  be  conceived  as  straining 
towards  development  of  a  wider  kind  than  earthly  experience  has  as  yet 
allowed.  And  each  special  sense  is  both  an  internal  and  an  external 
sense;  involves  a  tract  of  the  brain,  of  unknown  capacity,  as  well  as  an 
end-organ,  whose  capacity  is  more  nearly  measurable.  The  relation 
of  this  internal,  mental,  mind's-eye  vision  to  non-sensory  psychological 
perception  on  the  one  hand,  and  to  ocular  vision  on  the  other  hand,  is 
exactly  one  of  the  points  on  which  some  profounder  observation  will  be 
seen  to  be  necessary.  One  must  at  least  speak  of  "mind's  eye"  percep- 
tion in  these  sensory  terms,  if  one  is  to  discuss  it  at  all. 

But  ordinary  experience  at  any  rate  assumes  that  the  end-organ  alone 
can  acquire  fresh  information,  and  that  the  central  tract  can  but  combine 
this  new  information  already  sent  in  to  it.  This  must  plainly  be  the  case, 
for  instance,  with  optical  or  acoustic  knowledge ;  —  with  such  knowledge 
as  is  borne  on  waves  of  ether  or  of  air,  and  is  caught  by  a  terminal 
apparatus,  evolved  for  the  purpose.  But  observe  that  it  is  by  no 
means  necessary  that  all  seeing  and  all  hearing  should  be  through  eye 
or  ear. 

The  vision  of  our  dreams  —  to  keep  to  vision  alone  for  greater  simpli- 
city —  is  non-optical  vision.     It  is  usually  generated  in  the  central  brain, 


170  CHAPTER   VI 

not  sent  up  thither  from  an  excited  retina.  Optical  laws  can  only  by  a 
stretch  of  terms  be  said  to  apply  to  it  at  all. 

Let  us  attempt  some  rough  conspectus,  which  may  show  something 
of  the  relation  in  which  central  and  peripheral  vision  stand  to  each  other. 

We  start  from  a  region  below  the  specialisation  of  visual  faculty.  The 
study  of  the  successive  dermal  and  nervous  modifications  which  have  led 
up  to  that  faculty  belongs  to  Biology,  and  all  that  our  argument  needs 
here  is  to  point  out  that  the  very  fact  that  this  faculty  has  been  developed 
in  a  germ,  animated  by  metetherial  life,  indicates  that  some  perceptivity 
from  which  sight  could  take  its  origin  pre-existed  in  the  originating,  the 
unseen  world.  We  know  vaguely  how  vision  differentiated  itself  peri- 
pherally, with  the  growing  sensibility  of  the  pigment-spot  to  light  and 
shadow.  But  there  must  have  been  a  cerebral  differentiation  also,  and 
also  a  psychological  differentiation,  namely,  a  gradual  shaping  of  a  dis- 
tinct feeling  from  obscure  feelings,  whose  history  we  cannot  recover. 

Yet  I  believe  that  we  have  still  persistent  in  our  brain-structure  some 
dim  vestige  of  the  transition  from  that  early  undifferentiated  continuous 
sensitivity  to  our  existing  specialisation  of  sense.  Probably  in  all  of  us, 
though  in  some  men  much  more  distinctly  than  in  others,  there  exist  cer- 
tain synesthesia  or  concomitances  of  sense-impression,  which  are  at  any 
rate  not  dependent  on  any  recognisable  link  of  association.1  My  present 
point  is  that  such  synesthesia?  stand  on  the  dividing  line  between  percepts 
externally  and  internally  originated.    These  irradiations  of  sensitivity, 

1  For  a  true  synaesthetic  or  "sound-seer,"  —  to  take  the  commonest  form  of  these 
central  repercussions  of  sensory  shock,  —  there  is  a  connection  between  sight  and 
sound  which  is  instinctive,  complex,  and  yet  for  our  intelligence  altogether  arbitrary. 

But  sound-seeing  is  only  a  conspicuous  example  of  synaesthesiae  which  exist  in  as 
yet  unexplored  variety.  When  we  find  that  there  are  gradated,  peremptory,  inex- 
plicable associations  connecting  sensations  of  light  and  colour  with  sensations  of 
temperature,  smell,  taste,  muscular  resistance,  etc.,  we  are  led  to  conclude  that  we 
are  dealing,  not  with  the  casual  associations  of  childish  experience,  but  with  some 
reflection  or  irradiation  of  specialised  sensations  which  must  depend  upon  the  connate 
structure  of  the  brain  itself. 

This  view  is  consistent  with  the  results  of  an  Enquete  sur  V  audition  coloree  recently 
conducted  by  Professor  Flournoy,  from  which  it  appears  that  of  213  persons  presenting 
these  associations  only  48  could  assign  the  date  of  their  origin;  and  is  supported  by  a 
case  described  in  the  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  December  1892,  p.  185,  where  a  man 
who  had  long  exhibited  a  limited  form  of  audition  coloree  developed  gustation  coloree 
in  addition  when  in  a  low  state  of  health. 

See  also  the  "Report  of  the  International  Congress  of  Experimental  Psychology, 
Second  Session,  London,  1892,"  pp.  10-20  (Williams  &  Norgate,  London,  1892), 
and  the  American  Journal  of  Psychology  for  April  1900  (vol.  xi.  pp.  377-404). 


SENSORY  AUTOMATISM  171 

sometimes  apparently  congenital,  cannot,  on  the  one  hand,  be  called 
a  purely  mental  phenomenon.  Nor  again  can  they  be  definitely  classed 
under  external  vision;  since  they  do  sometimes  follow  upon  a  mental 
process  of  association.  It  seems  safer  to  term  them  entencephalic,  on  the 
analogy  of  entoptic,  since  they  seem  to  be  due  to  something  in  brain-struc- 
ture, much  as  entoptic  percepts  are  due  to  something  in  the  structure  of 
the  eye. 

I  will,  then,  start  with  the  synesthesia?  as  the  most  generalised  form 
of  inward  perception,  and  will  pass  on  to  other  classes  which  approach 
more  nearly  to  ordinary  external  vision. 

From  these  entencephalic  photisms  we  seem  to  proceed  by  an  easy 
transition  to  the  most  inward  form  of  unmistakable  entoptic  vision  —  which 
is  therefore  the  most  inward  form  of  all  external  vision  —  the  flash  of 
light  consequent  on  electrisation  of  the  optic  nerve.  Next  on  our  outward 
road  we  may  place  the  phosphenes  caused  by  pressure  on  the  optic  nerve 
or  irritation  of  the  retina.  Next  PurkinjVs  figures,  or  shadows  cast  by 
the  blood-vessels  of  the  middle  layer  upon  the  bacillary  layer  of  the  retina. 
Then  muscce  volitantes,  or  shadows  cast  by  motes  in  the  vitreous  humour 
upon  the  fibrous  layer  of  the  retina. 

Midway,  again,  between  entoptic  and  ordinary  external  vision  we 
may  place  after-images;  which,  although  themselves  perceptible  with  shut 
eyes,  presuppose  a  previous  retinal  stimulation  from  without;  —  forming, 
in  fact,  the  entoptic  sequelae  of  ordinary  external  vision. 

Next  comes  our  ordinary  vision  of  the  external  world  —  and  this, 
again,  is  pushed  to  its  highest  degree  of  externality  by  the  employment  of 
artificial  aids  to  sight.  He  who  gazes  through  a  telescope  at  the  stars 
has  mechanically  improved  his  end-organs  to  the  furthest  point  now 
possible  to  man. 

And  now,  standing  once  more  upon  our  watershed  of  entencephalic 
vision,  let  us  trace  the  advancing  capacities  of  internal  vision.  The  forms 
of  vision  now  to  be  considered  are  virtually  independent  of  the  eye;  they 
can  persist,  that  is  to  say,  after  the  destruction  of  the  eye,  if  only  the  eye 
has  worked  for  a  few  years,  so  as  to  give  visual  education  to  the  brain. 
We  do  not,  in  fact,  fully  know  the  limits  of  this  independence,  which  can 
only  be  learnt  by  a  fuller  examination  of  intelligent  blind  persons  than  has 
yet  been  made.  Nor  can  we  say  with  certainty  how  far  in  a  seeing  person 
the  eye  is  in  its  turn  influenced  by  the  brain.  I  shall  avoid  postulating 
any  "retropulsive  current"  from  brain  to  retina,  just  as  I  have  avoided 
any  expression  more  specific  than  "the  brain"  to  indicate  the  primary 
seat  of  sight.    The  arrangement  here  presented,  as  already  explained,  is  a 


172  CHAPTER   VI 

psychological  one,  and  can  be  set  forth  without  trespassing  on  contro- 
verted physiological  ground. 

We  may  take  memory-images  as  the  simplest  type  of  internal  vision. 
These  images,  as  commonly  understood,  introduce  us  to  no  fresh  know- 
ledge; they  preserve  the  knowledge  gained  by  conscious  gaze  upon  the 
outer  world.  In  their  simplest  spontaneous  form  they  are  the  cerebral 
sequelae  of  external  vision,  just  as  after-images  are  its  entoptic  sequelae. 
These  two  classes  of  vision  have  been  sometimes  confounded,  although 
the  distinction  is  a  marked  one.  Into  the  cerebral  storage  of  impres- 
sions one  element  habitually  enters  which  is  totally  absent  from  the  mere 
retinal  storage,  namely,  a  psychical  element  —  a  rearrangement  or 
generalisation  of  the  impressions  retinally  received. 

Next  we  come  to  a  common  class  of  memory-images,  in  which  the 
subliminal  rearrangement  is  particularly  marked.  I  speak  of  dreams  — 
which  lead  us  on  in  two  directions  from  memory-images;  in  the  direction 
of  imagination-images ,  and  in  the  direction  of  hallucinations.  Certain 
individual  dreams,  indeed,  of  rare  types  point  also  in  other  directions 
which  later  on  we  shall  have  to  follow.  But  dreams  as  a  class  consist  of 
confused  memory-images,  reaching  a  kind  of  low  hallucinatory  intensity, 
a  glow,  so  to  say,  sufficient  to  be  perceptible  in  darkness. 

I  will  give  the  name  of  imagination-images  to  those  conscious  re- 
combinations of  our  store  of  visual  imagery  which  we  compose  either  for 
our  mere  enjoyment,  as  "waking  dreams,"  or  as  artifices  to  help  us  to  the 
better  understanding  of  facts  of  nature  confusedly  discerned.  Such,  for 
instance,  are  imagined  geometrical  diagrams;  and  Watt,  lying  in  bed  in  a 
dark  room  and  conceiving  the  steam-engine,  illustrates  the  utmost  limit 
to  which  voluntary  internal  visualisation  can  go. 

Here  at  any  rate  the  commonly  admitted  category  of  stages  of  inward 
vision  will  close.  Thus  far  and  no  farther  the  brain's  capacity  for  pre- 
senting visual  images  can  be  pushed  on  under  the  guidance  of  the  conscious 
will  of  man.  It  is  now  my  business  to  show,  on  the  contrary,  that  we 
have  here  reached  a  mere  intermediate  point  in  the  development  of  internal 
vision.  These  imagination-images,  valuable  as  they  are,  are  merely  at- 
tempts to  control  supraliminally  a  form  of  vision  which  —  as  spontaneous 
memory-images  have  already  shown  us  —  is  predominantly  subliminal. 
The  memory-images  welled  up  from  a  just-submerged  stratum;  we  must 
now  consider  what  other  images  also  well  upward  from  the  same  hidden 
source. 

To  begin  with,  it  is  by  no  means  certain  that  some  of  Watt's  images 
of  steam-engines  did  not  well  up  from  that  source,  —  did  not  emerge  ready- 


SENSORY   AUTOMATISM  173 

made  into  the  supraliminal  mind  while  it  rested  in  that  merely  expectant 
state  which  forms  generally  a  great  part  of  invention.  We  have  seen  in 
Chapter  III.  that  there  is  reason  to  believe  in  such  a  conveyance  in  the 
much  inferior  mental  processes  of  calculating  boys,  etc.,  and  also  in  the 
mental  processes  of  the  painter.  In  short,  without  pretending  to  judge  of 
the  proportion  of  voluntary  to  involuntary  imagery  in  each  several  creative 
mind,  we  must  undoubtedly  rank  the  spontaneously  emergent  visual 
images  of  genius  as  a  further  stage  of  internal  vision. 

And  now  we  have  reached,  by  a  triple  road,  the  verge  of  a  most  impor- 
tant development  of  inward  vision  —  namely,  that  vast  range  of  phenomena 
which  we  call  hallucination.  Each  of  our  last  three  classes  had  led  up  to 
hallucination  in  a  different  way.  Dreams  actually  are  hallucinations; 
but  they  are  usually  hallucinations  of  low  intensity;  and  are  only  rarely 
capable  of  maintaining  themselves  for  a  few  seconds  (as  hypnopompic 
illusions)  when  the  dreamer  wakes  to  the  stimuli  of  the  material  world. 
Imagination-images  may  be  carried  to  a  hallucinatory  pitch  by  good  visual- 
isers.1  And  the  inspirations  of  genius — Raphael's  San  Sisto  is  the  classical 
instance  —  may  present  themselves  in  hallucinatory  vividness  to  the 
astonished  artist. 

A  hallucination,  one  may  say  boldly,  is  in  fact  a  hyperesthesia;  and 
generally  a  central  hyperesthesia.  That  is  to  say,  the  hallucination  is 
in  some  cases  due  indirectly  to  peripheral  stimulation;  but  often  also  it  is 
the  result  of  a  stimulus  to  "mind's-eye  vision,"  which  sweeps  the  idea 
onwards  into  visual  form,  regardless  of  ordinary  checks. 

Here,  then,  is  a  comprehensive  and  reasonable  way  of  regarding  these 
multifarious  hallucinations  or  sensory  automatisms.  They  are  phenomena 
which  must  neither  be  feared  nor  ignored,  but  rather  controlled  and  in- 
terpreted. Nor  will  that  interpretation  be  an  easy  matter.  The  inter- 
pretation of  the  symbols  by  which  the  retina  represents  the  external  world 
has  been,  whether  for  the  race  or  for  the  individual,  no  short  or  simple 
process.  Yet  ocular  vision  is  in  my  view  a  simple,  easy,  privileged  case 
of  vision  generally;  and  the  symbols  which  represent  our  internal  percepts 
of  an  immaterial  world  are  likely  to  be  far  more  complex  than  any 
impressions  from  the  material  world  on  the  retina. 

All  inward  visions  are  like  symbols  abridged  from  a  picture-alphabet. 
In  order  to  understand  any  one  class  of  hallucinations  we  ought  to  have 
all  classes  before  us.  At  the  lower  limit  of  the  series,  indeed,  the  analysis 
of  the  physician  should  precede  that  of  the  psychologist.  We  already 
know  to  some  extent,  and  may  hope  soon  to  know  more  accurately,  what 
1  See  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  viii.  p.  480  [610  A]. 


174  CHAPTER  VI 

sensory  disturbance  corresponds  to  what  nervous  lesion.  Yet  these  violent 
disturbances  of  inward  perception  —  the  snakes  of  the  drunkard,  the  scarlet 
fire  of  the  epileptic,  the  jeering  voices  of  the  paranoiac  —  these  are  per- 
haps of  too  gross  a  kind  to  afford  more  than  a  kind  of  neurological 
introduction  to  the  subtler  points  which  arise  when  hallucination  is 
unaccompanied  by  any  observable  defect  or  malady. 

It  is,  indeed,  obvious  enough  that  the  more  idiognomonic  the  halluci- 
nation is,  the  more  isolated  from  any  other  disturbance  of  normality,  the 
greater  will  be  its  psychological  interest.  An  apparently  spontaneous 
modification  of  central  percepts  —  what  phenomenon  could  promise  to 
take  us  deeper  into  the  mystery  of  the  mind? 

Yet  until  quite  recently  —  until,  in  short,  Edmund  Gurney  took  up 
the  inquiry  in  1882  —  this  wide,  important  subject  was  treated,  even  in 
serious  text-books,  in  a  superficial  and  perfunctory  way.  Few  statistics 
were  collected;  hardly  anything  was  really  known;  rather  there  was  a 
facile  assumption  that  all  hallucinations  or  sensory  automatisms  must 
somehow  be  due  to  physical  malady,  even  when  there  was  no  evidence 
whatever  for  such  a  connection.  I  must  refer  my  readers  to  Gurney's 
resume  in  his  chapter  on  " Hallucinations"  in  Phantasms  oj  the  Living, 
if  they  would  realise  the  gradual  confused  fashion  in  which  men's  minds 
had  been  prepared  for  the  wider  view  soon  to  be  opened,  largely  by  Gur- 
ney's own  statistical  and  analytical  work.  The  wide  collection  of  first- 
hand experiences  of  sensory  automatisms  of  every  kind  which  he  initiated, 
and  which  the  S.P.R.  " Census  of  Hallucinations"  continued  after  his 
death,  has  for  the  first  time  made  it  possible  to  treat  these  phenomena 
with  some  surety  of  hand.1 

The  results  of  these  inquiries  show  that  a  great  number  of  sensory 
automatisms  occur  among  sane  and  healthy  persons,  and  that  for  many 
of  these  we  can  at  present  offer  no  explanation  whatever.  For  some  of 
them,  however,  we  can  offer  a  kind  of  explanation,  or  at  least  an  indica- 
tion of  a  probable  determining  cause,  whose  mode  of  working  remains 
wholly  obscure. 

Thus,  in  some  few  instances,  although  there  is  no  disturbance  of  health, 
there  seems  to  be  a  predisposition  to  the  externalisation  of  figures  or  sounds. 
Since  this  in  no  way  interferes  with  comfort,  we  must  simply  class  it  as 

1  The  "Census  of  Hallucinations"  was  undertaken  in  1889,  by  a  Committee  of  the 
S.P.R.,  under  the  direction  of  Professor  Sidgwick,  and  consisting  of  himself  and  Mrs. 
Sidgwick,  Dr.  A.  T.  Myers,  Mr.  F.  Podmore,  Miss  A.  Johnson,  and  the  present  writer. 
The  full  report  of  the  committee  was  published  in  1894.  {Proceedings  S.P.R,  vol.  x. 
pp.  25-422.)  A  summary  of  the  report  is  given  in  the  original  edition.    [612  AJ 


SENSORY  AUTOMATISM  175 

an  idiosyncratic  central  hyperassthesia  —  much  like  the  tendency  to  ex- 
tremely vivid  dreams,  which  by  no  means  always  implies  a  poor  quality 
of  sleep. 

In  a  few  instances,  again,  we  can  trace  moral  predisposing  causes  — 
expectation,  grief,  anxiety. 

These  causes,  however,  turn  out  to  be  much  less  often  effective  than 
might  have  been  expected  from  the  popular  readiness  to  invoke  them. 
In  two  ways  especially  the  weakness  of  this  predisposing  cause  is  impressed 
upon  us.  In  the  first  place,  the  bulk  of  our  percipients  experience  their 
hallucinations  at  ordinary  unexciting  moments;  traversing  their  more 
anxious  crises  without  any  such  phenomenon.  In  the  second  place,  those 
of  our  percipients  whose  hallucination  is  in  fact  more  or  less  coincident 
with  some  distressing  external  event,  seldom  seem  to  have  been  predis- 
posed to  the  hallucination  by  a  knowledge  of  the  event.  For  the  event 
was  generally  unknown  to  them  when  the  corresponding  hallucination 
occurred. 

This  last  remark,  it  will  be  seen,  introduces  us  to  the  most  interesting 
and  important  group  of  percipients  and  of  percepts;  the  percipients  whose 
gift  constitutes  a  fresh  faculty  rather  than  a  degeneration;  the  percepts 
which  are  veridical  —  which  are  (as  we  shall  see  cause  to  infer)  in  some 
way  generated  by  some  event  outside  the  percipient's  mind,  so  that  their 
correspondence  with  that  event  conveys  some  new  fact,  in  however  obscure 
a  form.  It  is  this  group,  of  course,  which  gives  high  importance  to  the 
whole  inquiry;  which  makes  the  study  of  inward  vision  no  mere  curiosity, 
but  rather  the  opening  of  an  inlet  into  forms  of  knowledge  to  which  we 
can  assign  no  bound. 

Now  these  telepathic  hallucinations  will  introduce  us  to  very  varying 
forms  of  inward  vision.  It  will  be  well  to  begin  their  study  by  recalling 
and  somewhat  expanding  the  thesis  already  advanced:  that  man's  ocular 
vision  is  but  a  special  or  privileged  case  of  visual  power,  of  which  power 
his  inner  vision  affords  a  more  extensive  example. 

Ocular  vision  is  the  perception  of  material  objects,  in  accordance  with 
optical  laws,  from  a  definite  point  in  space.  Our  review  of  hallucinations 
has  already  removed  two  of  these  limitations.  If  I  see  a  hallucinatory 
figure  —  and  figures  seen  in  dreams  come  under  this  category  —  I  see 
something  which  is  not  a  material  object,  and  I  see  it  in  a  manner  not 
determined  by  optical  laws.  A  dream-figure  may  indeed  seem  to  conform 
to  optical  laws ;  but  that  will  be  the  result  of  self-suggestion,  or  of  organised 
memories,  and  will  vary  according  to  the  dreamer's  visualising  power. 
While  a  portrait-painter  may  see  a  face  in  dream  which  he  can  paint  from 


176  CHAPTER   VI 

memory  when  he  wakes,  the  ordinary  man's  dream-percept  will  be  vague, 
shifting,  and  unrememberable. 

Similarly,  if  I  see  a  subjective  hallucinatory  figure  "out  in  the  room," 
its  aspect  is  not  determined  by  optical  laws  (it  may  even  seem  to  stand 
behind  the  observer,  or  otherwise  outside  his  visual  field),  but  it  will  more 
or  less  conform  —  by  my  mere  self-suggestion,  if  by  nothing  else  —  to 
optical  laws ;  and,  moreover,  it  will  still  seem  to  be  seen  from  a  fixed  point 
in  space,  namely,  from  the  stationary  observer's  eyes  or  brain. 

All  this  seems  fairly  plain,  so  long  as  we  are  admittedly  dealing  with 
hallucinatory  figures  whose  origin  must  be  in  the  percipient's  own  mind. 
But  so  soon  as  we  come  to  quasi-percepts  which  we  believe  to  exist  or  to 
originate  somewhere  outside  the  percipient's  mind,  our  difficulties  come 
thick  and  fast. 

If  there  be  some  external  origin  for  our  inward  vision  (which  thereby 
becomes  veridical)  we  must  not  any  longer  assume  that  all  veridical  inward 
vision  starts  or  is  exercised  from  the  same  point.  If  it  gets  hold  of  facts 
(veridical  impressions  or  pictures,  not  mere  subjective  fancies),  we  cannot 
be  sure  a  priori  whether  it  somehow  goes  to  find  the  facts,  or  the  facts 
come  to  find  it.  Again,  we  cannot  any  longer  take  for  granted  that  it  will 
be  cognisant  only  of  phantasmal  or  immaterial  percepts.  If  it  can  get  at 
phantasmal  percepts  outside  the  organism,  may  it  not  get  at  material 
percepts  also  ?  May  it  not  see  distant  houses,  as  well  as  the  images  of 
distant  souls? 

Hazardous  as  these  speculations  may  seem,  they  nevertheless  represent 
an  attempt  to  get  our  notions  of  supersensory  things  as  near  down  to  our 
notions  of  sensory  things  as  we  fairly  can.  Whatever  may  be  our  ulti- 
mate conception  of  an  ideal  world,  we  must  not  for  the  present  attempt 
to  start  from  any  standpoint  too  far  removed  from  the  temporal  and 
spatial  existence  which  alone  we  know. 

As  telepathy  is  a  conception  intermediate  between  the  apparent  iso- 
lation of  minds  here  communicating  only  as  a  rule  through  material  organs, 
and  the  ultimate  conception  of  the  unity  of  all  mind,  so  the  conception 
which  I  am  about  to  propose,  of  a  recognition  of  space  without  our  con- 
comitant subjection  to  laws  of  matter,  is  strictly  intermediate  between 
man's  incarnate  condition  and  the  condition  which  we  may  imagine  him 
ultimately  to  attain.  We  cannot  possibly  infer  a  priori  that  all  recogni- 
tion of  space  must  needs  disappear  with  the  disappearance  of  the  par- 
ticular bodily  sensations  by  means  of  which  our  conception  of  space  has 
been  developed.  But  we  can  imagine  that  a  spirit  should  be  essentially 
independent  of  space,  and  yet  capable  of  recognising  it. 


SENSORY   AUTOMATISM  177 

Provisionally  admitting  this  view,  let  us  consider  what  range  we  are 
now  led  to  assign  to  inner  vision,  when  it  is  no  longer  merely  subjective 
but  veridical;  bringing  news  to  the  percipient  of  actual  fact  outside  his 
own  organism. 

We  infer  that  it  may  represent  to  us  (1)  material  objects;  or  (2)  sym- 
bols of  immaterial  things;  (3)  in  ways  not  necessarily  accordant  with  optical 
laws;  and  (4)  from  a  point  of  view  not  necessarily  located  within  the  or- 
ganism, by  means  of  what  I  have  called  a  psychical  excursion.  I  will 
take  an  illustration  from  a  case  which  is  recorded  in  detail  in  Proceedings 
S.P.R.,  vol.  vii.  p.  41  [666  C]. 

A  Mrs.  Wilmot  has  a  vision  of  her  husband  in  a  cabin  in  a  distant 
steamer.  Besides  her  husband,  she  sees  in  the  cabin  a  stranger  (who 
was  in  fact  present  there),  with  certain  material  details.  Now  here  I 
should  say  that  Mrs.  Wilmot's  inner  vision  discerned  material  objects, 
from  a  point  of  view  outside  her  own  organism.  But,  on  the  other  hand, 
although  the  perception  came  to  her  in  visual  terms,  I  do  not  suppose 
that  it  was  really  optical,  that  it  came  through  the  eye. 

Mrs.  Wilmot  might  believe,  say,  that  her  husband's  head  concealed 
from  her  some  part  of  the  berth  in  which  he  lay;  but  this  would  not  mean 
a  real  optical  concealment,  but  only  a  special  direction  of  her  attention, 
guided  by  preconceived  notions  of  what  would  be  optically  visible  from 
a  given  point. 

As  we  proceed  further  we  shall  see,  I  think,  in  many  ways  how  needful 
is  this  excursive  theory  to  explain  many  telepathic  and  all  telaesthetic 
experiences ;  many,  I  mean,  of  the  cases  where  two  minds  are  in  commu- 
nication, and  all  the  cases  where  the  percipient  learns  material  facts  (as 
words  in  a  closed  book,  etc.)  with  which  no  other  known  mind  is  con- 
cerned. 

Another  most  important  corollary  of  this  excursive  theory  must  just 
be  mentioned  here.  If  there  be  spiritual  excursion  to  a  particular  point 
of  space,  it  is  conceivable  that  this  should  involve  not  only  the  migrant 
spirit's  perception  from  that  point,  but  also  perception  of  that  point  by 
persons  materially  present  near  it.  That  point  may  become  a  phantas- 
mogenetic  centre,  as  well  as  a  centre  of  outlook.  In  plain  words,  if  A  has 
spiritually  invaded  B's  room,  and  there  sees  B,  B  on  his  part  may  see  A 
symbolically  standing  there ;  and  C  and  D  if  present  may  see  A  as  well. 

This  hint,  here  thrown  out  as  an  additional  argument  for  the  excursive 
theory,  will  fall  to  be  developed  later  on.  For  the  present  we  must  confine 
our  attention  to  our  immediate  subject:  the  range  of  man's  inner  vision, 
and  the  means  which  he  must  take  to  understand,  to  foster,  and  to  control  it. 


178  CHAPTER  VI 

The  first  and  simplest  step  in  the  control  of  inner  vision  is  the  repression 
by  hypnotic  suggestion  of  degenerative  hallucinations.  It  is  a  noteworthy 
fact  that  such  of  these  as  are  at  all  curable  are  much  more  often  curable 
by  hypnotism  than  in  any  other  way. 

The  next  step  is  one  to  which,  as  the  reader  of  my  chapter  on  hypno- 
tism already  knows,  I  attribute  an  importance  much  greater  than  is 
generally  accorded  to  it.  I  refer  to  the  hypnotiser's  power  not  only  of 
controlling  but  of  inducing  hallucinations  in  his  subject. 

As  I  have  already  said,  the  evocation  of  hallucinations  is  commonly 
spoken  of  as  a  mere  example  of  the  subject's  obedience  to  the  hypnotiser. 
"I  tell  my  subject  to  raise  his  arm,  and  he  raises  it;  I  tell  him  to  see  a  tiger 
in  the  room,  and  he  sees  one  accordingly."  But  manifestly  these  two 
incidents  are  not  on  the  same  level,  and  only  appear  to  be  so  through  a 
certain  laxity  of  language.  The  usage  of  speech  allows  me  to  say,  "I  will 
make  my  subject  lift  his  arm,"  although  I  am  of  course  unable  to  affect 
the  motor  centres  in  his  brain  which  start  that  motion.  But  it  is  so  easy 
for  a  man  to  lift  his  arm  that  my  speech  takes  that  familiar  power  for 
.granted,  and  notes  only  his  readiness  to  lift  it  when  I  tell  him  —  the  hyp- 
notic complaisance  which  prompts  him  to  obey  me  if  I  suggest  this  trivial 
action.  But  when  I  say,  "I  will  make  him  see  a  tiger,"  I  take  for  granted 
a  power  on  his  part  which  is  not  familiar,  which  I  have  no  longer  a  right  to 
assume.  For  under  ordinary  circumstances  my  subject  simply  cannot  see 
a  tiger  at  will;  nor  can  I  affect  the  visual  centres  which  might  enable  him 
to  do  so.  All  that  I  can  ask  him  to  do,  therefore,  is  to  choose  this  par- 
ticular way  of  indicating  that  in  his  hypnotic  condition  he  has  become  able 
to  stimulate  his  central  sensory  tracts  more  powerfully  than  ever  before. 

And  not  only  this.  His  hallucinations  are  in  most  cases  elaborate 
products  —  complex  images  which  must  have  needed  intelligence  to  fashion 
them  —  although  the  process  of  their  fashioning  is  hidden  from  our  view. 
In  this  respect  they  resemble  the  inspirations  of  genius.  For  here  we  find 
again  just  what  we  found  in  those  inspirations  —  the  uprush  of  a  complex 
intellectual  product,  performed  beneath  the  threshold,  and  projected 
ready-made  into  ordinary  consciousness.  The  uprushing  stream  of  intel- 
ligence, indeed,  in  the  man  of  genius  flowed  habitually  in  conformity  with 
the  superficial  stream.  Only  rarely  does  the  great  conception  intrude 
itself  upon  him  with  such  vigour  and  such  untimeliness  as  to  bring  con- 
fusion and  incoherence  into  his  ordinary  life.  But  in  the  case  of  these 
induced  hallucinations  the  incongruity  between  the  two  streams  of  intelli- 
gence is  much  more  marked.  When  a  subject,  for  instance,  is  trying  to 
keep  down  some  post-hypnotic  hallucinatory  suggestion,  one  can  watch 


SENSORY   AUTOMATISM  179 

the  smooth  surface  of  the  supraliminal  river  disturbed  by  that  suggestion 
as  though  by  jets  of  steam  from  below,  which  sometimes  merely  break  in 
bubbles,  but  sometimes  force  themselves  up  bodily  through  the  super- 
ficial film. 

It  is  by  considering  hallucinations  in  this  generalised  manner  and 
among  these  analogies,  that  we  can  best  realise  their  absence  of  necessary 
connection  with  any  bodily  degeneration  or  disease.  Often,  of  course, 
they  accompany  disease;  but  that  is  only  to  say  that  the  central  sensory 
tracts,  like  any  other  part  of  the  organism,  are  capable  of  morbid  as  well 
as  of  healthful  stimulus.  Taken  in  itself,  the  mere  fact  of  the  quasi- 
externalisation  of  a  centrally  initiated  image  indicates  strong  central 
stimulation,  and  absolutely  nothing  more.  There  is  no  physiological  law 
whatever  which  can  tell  us  what  degree  of  vividness  our  central  pictures 
may  assume  consistently  with  health  —  short  of  the  point  where  they  get 
to  be  so  indistinguishable  from  external  preceptions  that,  as  in  madness, 
they  interfere  with  the  rational  conduct  of  life.  That  point  no  well-attested 
case  of  veridical  hallucinations,  so  far  as  my  knowledge  goes,  has  yet 
approached. 

It  was,  of  course,  natural  that  in  the  study  of  these  phantasms,  as  else- 
where, the  therapeutic  interest  should  have  preceded  the  psychological, 
but  in  the  newer  practical  study  of  eugenics — the  study  which  aims  at 
improving  the  human  organism,  instead  of  merely  conserving  it  —  experi- 
mental psychology  is  indispensable,  and  one  branch  of  this  is  the  experi- 
mental study  of  mental  visions. 

Let  us  consider  whether,  apart  from  such  a  rare  and  startling  incident 
as  an  actual  hallucination,  there  is  any  previous  indication  of  a  habit  of 
receiving,  or  a  power  of  summoning,  pictures  from  a  subliminal  store- 
house? Any  self-suggestion,  conscious  or  unconscious,  which  places 
before  the  supraliminal  intelligence  visual  images  apparently  matured 
elsewhere  ? 

Such  indications  have  not  been  wanting.  In  the  chapter  on  Genius, 
and  in  the  chapter  on  Sleep,  we  have  traced  the  existence  of  many  classes 
of  these  pictures;  all  of  them  ready,  as  it  would  seem,  to  manifest  them- 
selves on  slight  inducement.  Dream-figures  will  rise  in  any  momentary 
blur  of  consciousness;  inspirations  will  respond  to  the  concentrated  desire 
or  the  mere  passing  emotion  of  the  man  of  genius;  after-images  will  recur, 
under  unknown  conditions,  long  after  the  original  stimulus  has  been  with- 
drawn; memory-images  will  surge  up  into  our  minds  with  even  unwished- 
f or  vividness ;  the  brilliant  exactness  of  illusions  hypnagogiques  will  astonish 
us  in  the  revealing  transition  from  waking  to  sleep. 


?8o  CHAPTER    VI 

All  is  prepared,  so  to  say,  for  some  empirical  short-cut  to  a  fuller  control  of 
these  subjacent  pictures ;  just  as  before  Mesmer  and  Puysegur  all  was  pre- 
pared for  an  empirical  short-cut  to  trance,  somnambulism,  suggestibility. 

All  that  we  want  is  to  hit  on  some  simple  empirical  way  of  bringing 
out  the  correlation  between  all  these  types  of  sub  acent  vision,  just  as 
mesmerism  was  a  simple  empirical  way  of  bringing  out  the  correlation 
between  various  trances  and  sleep-waking  states. 

Crystal-vision,  then,  like  hypnotic  trance,  might  have  been  gradually 
evolved  by  a  series  of  reasoned  experiments,  along  an  unexceptionable 
scientific  road. 

In  reality,  of  course,  this  prehistoric  practice  must  have  been  reached 
in  some  quite  different  way.  It  does  not  fall  within  the  scope  of  this  book 
to  trace  the  various  streams  of  divination  which  converge  into  Dr.  Dee's 
magic,  and  "the  attracting  of  spirits  into  the  ball."  But  it  is  really  to  the 
Elizabethan  Dr.  Dee  —  one  of  the  leading  savants  of  his  time  —  that  the 
credit  must  be  given  of  the  first  systematic  attempt  to  describe,  analyse, 
and  utilise  these  externalised  pictures.1 

I  will  describe  briefly  the  general  type  of  the  experiment,  and  we  shall 
see  how  near  we  can  get  to  a  psychological  explanation. 

Let  the  observer  gaze,  steadily  but  not  fatiguingly,  into  some  speculum, 
or  clear  depth,  so  arranged  as  to  return  as  little  reflection  as  possible.  A 
good  example  of  what  is  meant  will  be  a  glass  ball  enveloped  in  a  black 
shawl,  or  placed  in  the  back  part  of  a  half-opened  drawer;  so  arranged, 
in  short,  that  the  observer  can  gaze  into  it  with  as  little  distraction  as  may 
be  from  the  reflection  of  his  own  face  or  of  surrounding  objects.  After 
he  has  tried  (say)  three  or  four  times,  for  ten  minutes  or  so  at  a  time  — 
preferably  in  solitude,  and  in  a  state  of  mental  passivity  —  he  will  perhaps 
begin  to  see  the  glass  ball  or  crystal  clouding,  or  to  see  some  figure  or  picture 
apparently  in  the  ball.  Perhaps  one  man  or  woman  in  twenty  will  have 
some  slight  occasional  experience  of  this  kind;  and  perhaps  one  in  twenty 
of  these  seers  (the  percentages  must  as  yet  be  mainly  guess-work)  will 
be  able  by  practice  to  develop  this  faculty  of  inward  vision  up  to  a  point 
where  it  will  sometimes  convey  to  him  information  not  attainable  by 
ordinary  means. 

How  comes  it,  in  the  first  place,  that  he  sees  any  figure  in  the  crystal 
at  all?  Common  hypnotic  experiments  supply  two  obvious  answers, 
each  of  which  no  doubt  explains  some  part  of  the  phenomena. 

1  For  prehistoric  and  historic  crystal-gazing  see  Mr.  Andrew  Lang's  Making  of 
Religion,  and  Miss  Goodrich-Freer's  "Recent  Experiments  in  Crystal-Vision,"  Pro- 
ceedings S.P.R.,  vol.  v.  p.  486  [620  A]. 


SENSORY   AUTOMATISM  181 

In  the  first  place,  we  know  that  the  hypnotic  trance  is  often  induced 
by  gazing  at  some  small  bright  object.  This  may  or  may  not  be  a  mere 
effect  of  suggestion;  but  it  certainly  sometimes  occurs,  and  the  "server" 
consequently  may  be  partially  hypnotised,  and  in  a  state  which  facilitates 
hallucinations. 

In  the  second  place,  a  hypnotised  subject  —  hypnotised  but  in  a  fully 
alert  state  —  can  often  be  caused  by  suggestion  to  see  (say)  a  portrait 
upon  a  blank  card;  and  will  continue  to  see  that  portrait  on  that  card, 
after  the  card  has  been  shuffled  with  others ;  thus  showing  that  he  discerns 
with  unusual  acuteness  such  points  de  repere,  or  little  guiding  marks,  as 
may  exist  on  the  surface  of  even  an  apparently  blank  card. 

Correspondently  with  the  first  of  these  observations,  we  find  that  crystal- 
vision  is  sometimes  accompanied  by  a  state  of  partial  hypnotisation,  perhaps 
merging  into  trance.  This  has  been  the  case  with  various  French  hysterical 
subjects;  and  not  only  with  them  but  with  that  exceptionally  sound  and 
vigorous  observer,  Mr.  J.  G.  Keulemans.  His  evidence  (in  Proceedings 
S.P.R.,  vol.  viii.  pp.  516-521)  is  just  what  one  would  have  expected  a 
priori  on  such  a  matter. 

Correspondently  with  the  second  of  the  above  observations,  we  find 
that  points  de  repbre  do  occasionally  seem  to  determine  crystal  visions. 

This,  again,  has  been  noticed  among  the  French  hysterical  subjects; 
and  not  only  with  them,  but  with  another  among  our  best  observers,  Mrs. 
Verrall. 

These  things  being  so  —  both  these  causes  being  apparently  operative 
along  the  whole  series  of  "servers,"  or  crystal-gazers,  from  the  most  un- 
stable to  the  most  scientific  —  one  might  be  tempted  to  assume  that  these 
two  clues,  if  we  could  follow  them  far  enough,  would  explain  the  whole 
group  of  phenomena.  Persons  who  have  not  seen  the  phenomena,  indeed, 
can  hardly  be  persuaded  to  the  contrary.  But  the  real  fact  is,  as  even 
those  who  have  seen  much  less  of  crystal-gazing  than  I  have  will  very 
well  know,  that  these  explanations  cannot  be  stretched  to  cover  a  quarter 
—  perhaps  not  even  a  tenth  —  of  the  phenomena  which  actually  occur. 

Judging  both  from  the  testimony  of  scryers  themselves,  and  from  the 
observations  of  Dr.  Hodgson  and  others  (myself  included),  who  have 
had  many  opportunities  of  watching  them,  it  is  very  seldom  that  the  gaze 
into  the  glass  ball  induces  any  hypnotic  symptoms  whatever.  It  does 
not  induce  such  symptoms  with  successful  scryers  any  more  than  with 
unsuccessful.  Furthermore,  there  is  no  proof  that  the  gift  of  crystal- 
vision  goes  along  with  hypnotic  sensibility.  The  most  that  one  can  say 
is  that  the  gift  often  goes  along  with  telepathic  sensibility;  but  although 


i82  CHAPTER   VI 

telepathic  sensibility  may  sometimes  be  quickened  by  hypnotism,  we  have 
no  proof  that  those  two  forms  of  sensitiveness  habitually  go  together. 

The  ordinary  attitude  of  the  scryer,  I  repeat,  is  one  of  complete  detach- 
ment ;  an  interested  and  often  puzzled  scrutiny  and  analysis  of  the  figures 
which  display  themselves  in  swift  or  slow  succession  in  the  crystal  ball. 

This  last  sentence  applies  to  the  theory  of  points  de  repbre  as  well.  As 
a  general  rule,  the  crystal  vision,  however  meaningless  and  fantastic,  is  a 
thing  which  changes  and  develops  somewhat  as  a  dream  does ;  following, 
it  may  be,  some  trivial  chain  of  associations,  but  not  maintaining,  any 
more  than  a  dream  maintains,  any  continuous  scheme  of  line  or  colour. 
At  the  most,  the  scraps  of  reflection  in  the  crystal  could  only  start  such  a 
series  of  pictures  as  this.  And  the  start,  the  initiation  of  one  of  these 
series,  is  often  accompanied  by  an  odd  phenomenon  mentioned  above 
—  a  milky  clouding  of  the  crystal,  which  obscures  any  fragments  of  reflected 
images,  and  from  out  of  which  the  images  of  the  vision  gradually  grow 
clear.  I  cannot  explain  this  clouding.  It  occurs  too  often  and  too  inde- 
pendently to  be  a  mere  effect  of  suggestion.  It  does  not  seem  to  depend 
on  any  optical  condition — to  be,  for  instance,  a  result  of  change  of  focus 
of  the  eye,  or  of  prolonged  gazing.  It  is  a  picture  like  other  pictures;  it 
may  come  when  the  eyes  are  quite  fresh  (nor  ought  they  ever  to  be  strained) ; 
and  it  may  persist  for  some  time,  so  that  the  scryer  looks  away  and  back 
again,  and  sees  it  still.  It  comes  at  the  beginning  of  a  first  series  of  pictures, 
or  as  a  kind  of  drop  scene  between  one  series  of  pictures  and  another. 
Its  closest  parallel,  perhaps,  is  the  mist  or  cloud  out  of  which  phantasmal 
figures,  "out  in  the  room,"  sometimes  seem  to  form  themselves. 

Moreover,  the  connection,  if  one  can  so  call  it,  between  the  crystal 
and  the  vision  is  a  very  variable  one.  Sometimes  the  figures  seem  clearly 
defined  within  the  crystal  and  limited  thereby;  sometimes  all  perception 
of  the  crystal  or  other  speculum  disappears,  and  the  scryer  seems  clair- 
voyantly  introduced  into  some  group  of  life-sized  figures.  Nay,  further, 
when  the  habit  of  gazing  is  fully  acquired,  some  scryers  can  dispense  with 
any  speculum  whatever,  and  can  see  pictures  in  mere  blackness;  thus 
approximating  to  the  seers  of  "faces  in  the  dark,"  or  of  illusions  hyp- 
nagogiques. 

On  the  whole  it  seems  safest  to  attempt  at  present  no  further  explana- 
tion of  crystal-gazing  than  to  say  that  it  is  an  empirical  method  of  develop- 
ing internal  vision;  of  externalising  pictures  which  are  associated  with 
changes  in  the  sensorial  tracts  of  the  brain,  due  partly  to  internal  stimuli, 
and  partly  to  stimuli  which  may  come  from  minds  external  to  the  server's 
own.    The  hallucinations  thus  induced  appear  to  be  absolutely  harmless. 


SENSORY   AUTOMATISM  183 

I  at  least  know  of  no  kind  of  injury  resulting  from  them;  and  I  have  prob- 
ably heard  of  most  of  the  experiments  made  in  England,  with  any  scientific 
aim  or  care,  during  the  somewhat  limited  revival  of  crystal-gazing  which 
has  proceeded  for  the  last  few  years. 

The  crystal  picture  is  what  we  must  call  (for  want  of  knowledge  of 
determining  causes)  a  random  glimpse  into  inner  vision,  a  reflection  caught 
at  some  odd  angle  from  the  universe  as  it  shines  through  the  perturbing 
medium  of  that  special  soul.  Normal  and  supernormal  knowledge  and 
imaginings  are  blended  in  strangely  mingled  rays.  Memory,  dream, 
telepathy,  telaesthesia,  retrocognition,  precognition,  all  are  there.  Nay, 
there  are  indications  of  spiritual  communications  and  of  a  kind  of  ecstasy.1 

We  cannot  pursue  all  these  phenomena  at  once.  In  turning,  as  we 
must  now  turn,  to  the  spontaneous  cases  of  sensory  automatism  —  of 
every  type  of  which  the  induced  visions  of  the  crystal  afford  us  a  foretaste 
—  we  must  needs  single  out  first  some  fundamental  phenomenon,  illustra- 
ting some  principle  from  which  the  rarer  or  more  complex  phenomena 
may  be  in  part  at  least  derived.  Nor  will  there  be  difficulty  in  such  a 
choice.  Theory  and  actual  experience  point  here  in  the  same  direction. 
If  this  inward  vision,  this  inward  audition,  on  whose  importance  I  have 
been  insisting,  are  to  have  any  such  importance  —  if  they  are  to  have  any 
validity  at  all  —  if  their  contents  are  to  represent  anything  more  than 
dream  or  meditation  —  they  must  receive  knowledge  from  other  minds 
or  from  distant  objects ;  —  knowledge  which  is  not  received  by  the  external 
organs  of  sense.  Communication  must  exist  from  the  subliminal  to  the 
subliminal  as  well  as  from  the  supraliminal  to  the  supraliminal  parts  of 
the  being  of  different  individual  men.  Telepathy,  in  short,  must  be  the 
prerequisite  of  all  these  supernormal  phenomena. 

Actual  experience,  as  we  shall  presently  see,  confirms  this  view  of  the 
place  of  telepathy.  For  when  we  pass  from  the  induced  to  the  sponta- 
neous phenomena  we  shall  find  that  these  illustrate  before  all  else  this 
transmission  of  thought  and  emotion  directly  from  mind  to  mind. 

Now  as  to  telepathy,  there  is  in  the  first  place  this  to  be  said,  that  such 
a  faculty  must  absolutely  exist  somewhere  in  the  universe,  if  the  universe 
contains  any  unembodied  intelligences  at  all.  If  there  be  any  life  less 
rooted  in  flesh  than  ours  —  any  life  more  spiritual  (as  men  have  supposed 
that  a  higher  life  would  be),  then  either  it  must  not  be  social  life  —  there 
can  be  no  exchange  of  thought  in  it  at  all  —  or  else  there  must  exist  some 

1  It  is  right  also  to  state,  although  I  cannot  here  discuss  the  problems  involved, 
that  I  believe  these  visions  to  be  sometimes  seen  by  more  than  one  person,  simulta- 
neously or  successively. 


184  CHAPTER   VI 

method  of  exchanging  thought  which  does  not  depend  upon  either  tongue 
or  brain. 

Thus  much,  one  may  say,  has  been  evident  since  man  first  speculated 
on  such  subjects  at  all.  But  the  advance  of  knowledge  has  added  a  new 
presumption  —  it  can  be  no  more  than  a  presumption  —  to  all  such  cosmic 
speculations.  I  mean  the  presumption  of  continuity.  Learning  how 
close  a  tie  in  reality  unites  man  with  inferior  lives,  —  once  treated  as  some- 
thing wholly  alien,  impassably  separated  from  the  human  race  —  we  are 
led  to  conceive  that  a  close  tie  may  unite  him  also  with  superior  lives,  — 
that  the  series  may  be  fundamentally  unbroken,  the  essential  qualities  of 
life  the  same  throughout.  It  used  to  be  asked  whether  man  was  akin 
to  the  ape  or  to  the  angel.  I  reply  that  the  very  fact  of  his  kinship  with 
the  ape  is  proof  presumptive  of  his  kinship  with  the  angel. 

It  is  natural  enough  that  man's  instinctive  feeling  should  have  antici- 
pated any  argument  of  this  speculative  type.  Men  have  in  most  ages 
believed,  and  do  still  widely  believe,  in  the  reality  of  prayer;  that  is,  in  the 
possibility  of  telepathic  communication  between  our  human  minds  and 
minds  above  our  own,  which  are  supposed  not  only  to  understand  our 
wish  or  aspiration,  but  to  impress  or  influence  us  inwardly  in  return. 

So  widely  spread  has  been  this  belief  in  prayer  that  it  is  somewhat 
strange  that  men  should  not  have  more  commonly  made  what  seems  the 
natural  deduction  —  namely,  that  if  our  spirits  can  communicate  with 
higher  spirits  in  a  way  transcending  sense,  they  may  also  perhaps  be  able 
in  like  manner  to  communicate  with  each  other.  The  idea,  indeed,  has 
been  thrown  out  at  intervals  by  leading  thinkers  —  from  Augustine  to 
Bacon,  from  Bacon  to  Goethe,  from  Goethe  to  Tennyson. 

Isolated  experiments  from  time  to  time  indicated  its  practical  truth. 
Yet  it  is  only  within  the  last  few  years  that  the  vague  and  floating  notion 
has  been  developed  into  definite  theory  by  systematic  experiment. 

To  make  such  experiment  possible  has  indeed  been  no  easy  matter. 
It  has  been  needful  to  elicit  and  to  isolate  from  the  complex  emotions 
and  interactions  of  common  life  a  certain  psychical  element  of  whose 
nature  and  working  we  have  beforehand  but  a  very  obscure  idea. 

If  indeed  we  possessed  any  certain  method  of  detecting  the  action  of 
telepathy,  —  of  distinguishing  it  from  chance  coincidence  or  from  uncon- 
scious suggestion,  —  we  should  probably  find  that  its  action  was  widely 
diffused  and  mingled  with  other  more  commonplace  causes  in  many  in- 
cidents of  life.  We  should  find  telepathy,  perhaps,  at  the  base  of  many 
sympathies  and  antipathies,  of  many  wide  communities  of  feeling;  oper- 
ating, it  may  be,  in  cases  as  different  as  the  quasi-recognition  of  some 


SENSORY   AUTOMATISM  185 

friend  in  a  stranger  seen  at  a  distance  just  before  the  friend  himself 
unexpectedly  appears,  and  the  Pheme  or  Rumour  which  in  Hindostan 
or  in  ancient  Greece  is  said  to  have  often  spread  far  an  inexplicable 
knowledge  of  victory  or  disaster. 

But  we  are  obliged,  for  the  sake  of  clearness  of  evidence,  to  set  aside, 
when  dealing  with  experimentation,  all  these  mixed  emotional  cases,  and 
to  start  from  telepathic  communications  intentionally  planned  to  be  so 
trivial,  so  devoid  of  associations  or  emotions,  that  it  shall  be  impossible 
to  refer  them  to  any  common  memory  or  sympathy;  to  anything  save  a 
direct  transmission  of  idea,  or  impulse,  or  sensation,  or  image,  from  one 
to  another  mind. 

The  reader  who  has  studied  the  evidence  originally  set  forth  in  Chap- 
ters II.  and  III.  of  Phantasms  of  the  Living  will,  I  trust,  carry  away  a 
pretty  clear  notion  of  what  can  at  present  actually  be  done  in  the  way  of 
experimental  transferences  of  small  definite  ideas  or  pictures  from  one  or 
more  persons  —  the  "agent''  or  "agents"  —  to  one  or  more  persons  — 
the  "percipient"  or  "percipients."1  In  these  experiments  actual  contact 
has  been  forbidden,  to  avoid  the  risk  of  unconscious  indications  by  pressure. 
It  is  at  present  still  doubtful  how  far  close  proximity  really  operates  in  aid 
of  telepathy,  or  how  far  its  advantage  is  a  mere  effect  of  self-suggestion  — 
on  the  part  either  of  agent  or  of  percipient.  Some  few  pairs  of  experi- 
menters have  obtained  results  of  just  the  same  type  at  distances  of  half 
a  mile  or  more.2  Similarly,  in  the  case  of  induction  of  hypnotic  trance, 
Dr.  Gibert  attained  at  the  distance  of  nearly  a  mile  results  which  are  usually 
supposed  to  require  close  and  actual  presence.    [See  Appendix  V.  C] 

We  must  clearly  realise  that  in  telepathic  experiment  we  encounter 
just  the  same  difficulty  which  makes  our  results  in  hypnotic  therapeutics 

1  See  also  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  i.  pp.  263-283;  vol.  ii.  pp.  1-5,  24-42,  189-200; 
vol.  iii.  pp.  424-452,  where  a  full  record  will  be  found  of  Mr.  Malcolm  Guthrie's  experi- 
ments [630  B].  Also  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  xi.  pp.  2-17  [630  C],  for  Mr.  Henry  G. 
Rawson's  experiments.  Others  are  recorded  in  the  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  i.  pp. 
161-167  and  174-215.  See  also  those  of  Herr  Max  Dessoir  (Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  iv. 
p.  in,  and  vol.  v.  p.  355);  Herr  Anton  Schmoll  and  M.  Etienne  Mabire  (ibid.  vol.  iv.  p. 
324  and  vol.  v.  p.  169) ;  Mr.  J.  W.  Smith  (ibid.  vol.  ii.  p.  207) ;  Sir  Oliver  Lodge  (ibid.  vol. 
vii.  p.  374);  Dr.  A.  Blair  Thaw  (ibid.  vol.  viii.  p.  422);  Dr.  von  Schrenck-Notzing  (ibid. 
vol.  vii.  p.  3);  Professor  Richet  (ibid.  vol.  v.  p.  18).  See  also  Phantasms  of  the  Living, 
vol.  i.  pp.  32-34,  and  vol.  ii.  pp.  653-654.  Also  the  experiments  of  Professor  and 
Mrs.  Sidgwick  (Proceedings,  vol.  vi.  and  vol.  viii.)  already  referred  to  in  Chapter  V. 

2  See  Mr.  F.  Podmore's  Apparitions  and  Thought-transference,  Chapter  V.  [630 
D,  etc.];  also  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  xi.  p.  455  [630  F];  and  Journal  S.P.R.,  vol.  vii. 
PP-  32S-329  [63°  E];  ibid.  pp.  234-237,  pp.  299-306  and  pp.  311-319;  and  vol. 
xii.  p.  223  (March  1906). 


186  CHAPTER   VI 

so  unpredictable  and  irregular.  We  do  not  know  how  to  get  our  sugges- 
tions to  take  hold  of  the  subliminal  self.  They  are  liable  to  fail  for  two 
main  reasons.  Either  they  somehow  never  reach  the  subliminal  centres 
which  we  wish  to  affect,  or  they  find  those  centres  preoccupied  with  some 
self-suggestion  hostile  to  our  behest.  This  source  of  uncertainty  can  only 
be  removed  by  a  far  greater  number  of  experiments  than  have  yet  been 
made  —  experiments  repeated  until  we  have  oftener  struck  upon  the  happy 
veins  which  make  up  for  an  immense  amount  of  sterile  exploration.  Mean- 
time we  must  record,  but  can  hardly  interpret.  Yet  there  is  one  provi- 
sional interpretation  of  telepathic  experiment  which  must  be  noticed  thus 
early  in  our  discussion,  because,  if  true,  it  may  conceivably  connect  our 
groping  work  with  more  advanced  departments  of  science,  while,  if  seen 
to  be  inadequate,  it  may  bid  us  turn  our  inquiry  in  some  other  direction. 
I  refer  to  the  suggestion  that  telepathy  is  propagated  by  "  brain- waves " ; 
or,  as  Sir  W.  Crookes  has  more  exactly  expressed  it,  by  ether-waves  of 
even  smaller  amplitude  and  greater  frequency  than  those  which  carry  the 
X  rays.  These  waves  are  conceived  as  passing  from  one  brain  to  another, 
and  arousing  in  the  second  brain  an  excitation  or  image  similar  to  the 
excitation  or  image  from  which  they  start  in  the  first.  The  hypothesis 
is  an  attractive  one;  because  it  fits  an  agency  which  certainly  exists,  but 
whose  effect  is  unknown,  to  an  effect  which  certainly  exists,  but  whose 
agency  is  unknown. 

In  this  world  of  vibrations  it  may  seem  at  first  the  simplest  plan  to 
invoke  a  vibration  the  more.  It  would  be  rash,  indeed,  to  affirm  that  any 
phenomenon  perceptible  by  men  may  not  be  expressible,  in  part  at  least, 
in  terms  of  ethereal  undulations.  But  in  the  case  of  telepathy  the  analogy 
which  suggests  this  explanation,  the  obvious  likeness  between  the  picture 
emitted  (so  to  say)  by  the  agent  and  the  picture  received  by  the  percipient 
—  as  when  I  fix  my  mind  on  the  two  of  diamonds,  and  he  sees  a  mental 
picture  of  that  card  —  goes  but  a  very  short  way.  One  has  very  soon 
to  begin  assuming  that  the  percipient's  mind  modifies  the  picture  despatched 
from  the  agent:  until  the  likeness  between  the  two  pictures  becomes  a 
quite  symbolical  affair.  We  have  seen  that  there  is  a  continuous  transi- 
tion from  experimental  to  spontaneous  telepathy;  from  our  transferred 
pictures  of  cards  to  monitions  of  a  friend's  death  at  a  distance.  These 
monitions  may  indeed  be  pictures  of  the  dying  friend,  but  they  are  seldom 
such  pictures  as  the  decedent's  brain  seems  likely  to  project  in  the  form  in 
which  they  reach  the  percipient.  Mr.  L. —  to  take  a  well-known  case 
in  our  collection  {Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  i.  p.  210)  —  dies  of  heart 
disease  when  in  the  act  of  lying  down  undressed,  in  bed.     At  or  about 


SENSORY  AUTOMATISM  187 

the  same  moment  Mr.  N.  J.  S.  sees  Mr.  L.  standing  beside  him  with  a 
cheerful  air,  dressed  for  walking  and  with  a  cane  in  his  hand.  One  does 
not  see  how  a  system  of  undulations  could  have  transmuted  the  physical 
facts  in  this  way. 

A  still  greater  difficulty  for  the  vibration-theory  is  presented  by  col- 
lective telepathic  hallucinations.  It  is  hard  to  understand  how  A  can 
emit  a  pattern  of  vibrations  which,  radiating  equally  in  all  directions,  shall 
affect  not  only  his  distant  friend  B,  but  also  the  strangers  C  and  D,  who 
happen  to  be  standing  near  B  ;  —  and  affect  no  other  persons,  so  far  as 
we  know,  in  the  world. 

The  above  points  have  been  fair  matter  of  argument  almost  since  our 
research  began.  But  as  our  evidence  has  developed,  our  conception  of 
telepathy  has  needed  to  be  more  and  more  generalised  in  other  and  new 
directions,  —  still  less  compatible  with  the  vibration  theory.  Three  such 
directions  may  be  briefly  specified  here  —  namely,  the  relation  of  telepathy 
(a)  to  telaesthesia  or  clairvoyance,  (b)  to  time,  and  (c)  to  disembodied 
spirits,  (a)  It  is  increasingly  hard  to  refer  all  the  scenes  of  which  per- 
cipients become  aware  to  the  action  of  any  given  mind  which  is  perceiving 
those  distant  scenes.  This  is  especially  noticeable  in  crystal-gazing  ex- 
periments, (b)  And  these  crystal  visions  also  show  what,  from  the  strict 
telepathic  point  of  view,  we  should  call  a  great  laxity  of  time  relations. 
The  scryer  chooses  his  own  time  to  look  in  the  ball;  —  and  though  some- 
times he  sees  events  which  are  taking  place  at  the  moment,  he  may  also 
see  past  events, — and  even,  as  it  seems,  future  events.  I  at  least  cannot 
deny  precognition,  nor  can  I  draw  a  definite  line  amid  these  complex 
visions  which  may  separate  precognition  from  telepathy  (see  Proceedings 
S.P.R.,  vol.  xi.  pp.  408-593).  (c)  Precognition  itself  may  be  explained, 
if  you  will,  as  telepathy  from  disembodied  spirits;  —  and  this  would 
at  any  rate  bring  it  under  a  class  of  phenomena  which  I  think  all  students 
of  our  subject  must  before  long  admit.  Admitting  here,  for  argument's 
sake,  that  we  do  receive  communications  from  the  dead  which  we  should 
term  telepathic  if  we  received  them  from  the  living,  it  is  of  course  open 
to  us  to  conjecture  that  these  messages  also  are  conveyed  on  ether-waves. 
But  since  those  waves  do  not  at  any  rate  emanate  from  material  brains, 
we  shall  by  this  time  have  got  so  far  from  the  original  brain-wave 
hypothesis  that  few  will  care  still  to  defend  it. 

I  doubt,  indeed,  whether  we  can  safely  say  of  telepathy  anything  more 
definite  than  this:  Life  has  the  power  of  manifesting  itself  to  life.  The 
laws  of  life,  as  we  have  thus  far  known  them,  have  been  only  laws  of  life 
when  already  associated  with  matter.    Thus  limited,  we  have  learnt  little 


188  CHAPTER   VI 

as  to  Life's  true  nature.  We  know  not  even  whether  Life  be  only  a  direc- 
tive Force,  or,  on  the  other  hand,  an  effective  Energy.  We  know  not  in 
what  way  it  operates  on  matter.  We  can  in  no  way  define  the  connection 
between  our  own  consciousness  and  our  organisms.  Just  here  it  is,  I 
should  say,  that  telepathic  observations  ought  to  supply  us  with  some 
hint.  From  the  mode  in  which  some  element  of  one  individual  life,  — 
apart  from  material  impact,  —  gets  hold  of  another  organism,  we  may 
in  time  learn  something  of  the  way  in  which  our  own  life  gets  hold  of  our 
own  organism,  —  and  maintains,  intermits,  or  abandons  its  organic  sway.1 

The  hypothesis  which  I  suggested  in  Phantasms  of  the  Living  itself, 
in  my  "Note  on  a  possible  mode  of  psychical  interaction,"  seems  to  me 
to  have  been  rendered  increasingly  plausible  by  evidence  of  many  kinds 
since  received;  evidence  of  which  the  larger  part  falls  outside  the  limits 
of  this  present  work.  I  still  believe  —  and  more  confidently  than  in  1886 
—  that  a  "psychical  invasion"  does  take  place;  that  a  " phantasmogenetic 
centre"  is  actually  established  in  the  percipient's  surroundings;  that  some 
movement  bearing  some  relation  to  space  as  we  know  it  is  actually  accom- 
plished; and  some  presence  is  transferred,  and  may  or  may  not  be  dis- 
cerned by  the  invaded  person;  some  perception  of  the  distant  scene  in 
itself  is  acquired,  and  may  or  may  not  be  remembered  by  the  invader. 

But  the  words  which  I  am  here  beginning  to  use  carry  with  them  asso- 
ciations from  which  the  scientific  reader  may  well  shrink.  Fully  realising 
the  offence  which  such  expressions  may  give,  I  see  no  better  line  of  excuse 
than  simply  to  recount  the  way  in  which  the  gradual  accretion  of  evidence 
has  obliged  me,  for  the  mere  sake  of  covering  all  the  phenomena,  to  use 
phrases  and  assumptions  which  go  far  beyond  those  which  Edmund 
Gurney  and  I  employed  in  our  first  papers  on  this  inquiry  in  1883. 

When  in  1882  our  small  group  began  the  collection  of  evidence  bearing 
upon  "veridical  hallucinations"  —  or  apparitions  which  coincided  with 
other  events  in  such  a  way  as  to  suggest  a  causal  connection  —  we  found 
scattered  among  the  cases  from  the  first  certain  types  which  were  with 
difficulty  reducible  under  the  conception  of  telepathy  pure  and  simple  — 
even  if  such  a  conception  could  be  distinctly  formed.  Sometimes  the  ap- 
parition was  seen  by  more  than  one  percipient  at  once  —  a  result  which 
we  could  hardly  have  expected  if  all  that  had  passed  were  the  transference 
of  an  impression  from  the  agent's  mind  to  another  mind,  which  then  bodied 

1  It  is  plain  that  on  this  view  there  is  no  theoretical  reason  for  limiting  telepathy  to 
human  beings.  For  aught  we  can  say,  the  impulse  may  pass  between  man  and  the 
lower  animals,  or  between  the  lower  animals  themselves.  See  Journal  S.P.R.,  vol.  xi. 
pp.  278-290  and  pp.  323-4;  the  same,  vol.  xii.  pp.  21-3;  the  same,  vol.  iv.  p.  289; 
and  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  xiv.  p.  285. 


SENSORY   AUTOMATISM  189 

forth  that  impression  in  externalised  shape  according  to  laws  of  its  own 
structure.  There  were  instances,  too,  where  the  percipient  seemed  to  be 
the  agent  also  —  in  so  far  that  it  was  he  who  had  an  impression  of  having 
somehow  visited  and  noted  a  distant  scene,  whose  occupant  was  not  neces- 
sarily conscious  of  any  immediate  relation  with  him.  Or  sometimes 
this  "telepathic  clairvoyance"  developed  into  "reciprocity,"  and  each 
of  the  two  persons  concerned  was  conscious  of  the  other;  —  the  scene  of 
their  encounter  being  the  same  in  the  vision  of  each,  or  at  least  the  expe- 
rience being  in  some  way  common  to  both.  These  and  cognate  difficulties 
were  present  to  my  mind  from  the  first;  and  in  the  above-mentioned  "  Note 
on  a  suggested  mode  of  psychical  interaction,"  included  in  vol.  ii.  of  Phan- 
tasms of  the  Living,  I  indicated  briefly  the  extension  of  the  telepathic 
theory  to  which  they  seemed  to  me  to  point. 

Meantime  cases  of  certain  other  definite  types  continued  to  come  steadily 
to  hand,  although  in  lesser  numbers  than  the  cases  of  apparition  at  death. 
To  mention  two  important  types  only  —  there  were  apparitions  of  the  so- 
called  dead,  and  there  were  cases  of  precognition.  With  regard  to  each 
of  these  classes,  it  seemed  reasonable  to  defer  belief  until  time  should  have 
shown  whether  the  influx  of  first-hand  cases  was  likely  to  be  permanent; 
whether  independent  witnesses  continued  to  testify  to  incidents  which 
could  be  better  explained  on  these  hypotheses  than  on  any  other.  Before 
Edmund  Gurney's  death  in  1888  our  cases  of  apparitions  and  other  mani- 
festations of  the  dead  had  reached  a  degree  of  weight  and  consistency 
which,  as  his  last  paper  showed,  was  beginning  to  convince  him  of  their 
veridical  character;  and  since  that  date  these  have  been  much  further 
increased;  and  especially  have  drawn  from  Mrs.  Piper's  and  other  trance- 
phenomena  an  unexpected  enlargement  and  corroboration.  The  evidence 
for  communication  from  the  departed  is  now  in  my  personal  estimate 
quite  as  strong  as  that  for  telepathic  communication  between  the  living; 
and  it  is  moreover  evidence  which  inevitably  alters  and  widens  our  con- 
ception of  telepathy  between  living  men. 

The  evidence  for  precognition,  again,  was  from  the  first  scantier,  and 
has  advanced  at  a  slower  rate.  It  has  increased  steadily  enough  to  lead 
me  to  feel  confident  that  it  will  have  to  be  seriously  reckoned  with;  but  I 
cannot  yet  say  —  as  I  do  say  with  reference  to  the  evidence  for  messages 
from  the  departed  —  that  almost  every  one  who  accepts  our  evidence  for 
telepathy  at  all,  must  ultimately  accept  this  evidence  also.  It  must  run 
on  at  any  rate  for  some  years  longer  before  it  shall  have  accreted  a  con- 
vincing weight. 

But  at  whatever  point  one  or  another  inquirer  may  happen  at  present 


i9o  CHAPTER  VI 

to  stand,  I  urge  that  this  is  the  reasonable  course  for  conviction  to  follow. 
First  analyse  the  miscellaneous  stream  of  evidence  into  definite  types; 
then  observe  the  frequency  with  which  these  types  recur,  and  let  your 
sense  of  their  importance  gradually  grow,  if  the  evidence  grows  also. 

Now  this  mode  of  procedure  evidently  excludes  all  definite  a  priori 
views,  and  compels  one's  conceptions  to  be  little  more  than  the  mere 
grouping  to  which  the  facts  thus  far  known  have  to  be  subjected  in 
order  that  they  may  be  realised  in  their  ensemble. 

"What  definite  reason  do  I  know  why  this  should  not  be  true?"  — 
this  is  the  question  which  needs  to  be  pushed  home  again  and  again  if 
one  is  to  realise  —  and  not  in  the  ordinary  paths  of  scientific  speculation 
alone  —  how  profound  our  ignorance  of  the  Universe  really  is. 

My  own  ignorance,  at  any  rate,  I  recognise  to  be  such  that  my  notions 
of  the  probable  or  improbable  in  the  Universe  are  not  of  weight  enough 
to  lead  me  to  set  aside  any  facts  which  seem  to  me  well  attested,  and  which 
are  not  shown  by  experts  actually  to  conflict  with  any  better-established 
facts  or  generalisations.  Wide  though  the  range  of  established  science 
may  be,  it  represents,  as  its  most  far-sighted  prophets  are  the  first  to  admit, 
a  narrow  glance  only  into  the  unknown  and  infinite  realm  of  law. 

The  evidence,  then,  leading  me  thus  unresisting  along,  has  led  me 
to  this  main  difference  from  our  early  treatment  of  veridical  phantasms. 
Instead  of  starting  from  a  root-conception  of  a  telepathic  impulse  merely 
passing  from  mind  to  mind,  I  now  start  from  a  root-conception  of  the 
dissociability  of  the  self,  of  the  possibility  that  different  fractions  of  the 
personality  can  act  so  far  independently  of  each  other  that  the  one  is  not 
conscious  of  the  other's  action. 

Naturally  the  two  conceptions  coincide  over  much  of  the  ground. 
Where  experimental  thought-transference  is  concerned  —  even  where 
the  commoner  types  of  coincidental  phantasms  are  concerned  —  the  second 
formula  seems  a  needless  and  unprovable  variation  on  the  first.  But  as 
soon  as  we  get  among  the  difficult  types  —  reciprocal  cases,  clairvoyant 
cases,  collective  cases,  above  all,  manifestations  of  the  dead  —  we  find 
that  the  conception  of  a  telepathic  impulse  as  a  message  despatched  and 
then  left  alone,  as  it  were,  to  effect  its  purpose  needs  more  and  more  of 
straining,  of  manipulation,  to  fit  it  to  the  evidence.  On  the  other  hand, 
it  is  just  in  those  difficult  regions  that  the  analogies  of  other  splits  of  per- 
sonality recur,  and  that  phantasmal  or  automatic  behaviour  recalls  to  us 
the  behaviour  of  segments  of  personality  detached  from  primary  person- 
ality, but  operating  through  the  organism  which  is  common  to  both. 

The  innovation  which  we  are  here  called  upon  to  make  is  to  suppose 


SENSORY  AUTOMATISM  191 

that  segments  of  the  personality  can  operate  in  apparent  separation  from 
the  organism.  Such  a  supposition,  of  course,  could  not  have  been  started 
without  proof  of  telepathy,  and  could  with  difficulty  be  sustained  without 
proof  of  survival  of  death.  But,  given  telepathy,  we  have  some  psychical 
agency  connected  with  man  operating  apart  from  his  organism.  Given 
survival,  we  have  an  element  of  his  personality  —  to  say  the  least  of  it  — 
operating  when  his  organism  is  destroyed.  There  is  therefore  no  very 
great  additional  burden  in  supposing  that  an  element  of  his  personality 
may  operate  apart  from  his  organism,  while  that  organism  still  exists. 

Ce  n'est  que  le  premier  pas  qui  coHte.  If  we  have  once  got  a  man's 
thought  operating  apart  from  his  body  —  if  my  fixation  of  attention  on  the 
two  of  diamonds  does  somehow  so  modify  another  man's  brain  a  few  yards 
off  that  he  seems  to  see  the  two  of  diamonds  floating  before  him  —  there 
is  no  obvious  halting-place  on  his  side  till  we  come  to  "possession"  by  a 
departed  spirit,  and  there  is  no  obvious  halting-place  on  my  side  till  we 
come  to  "travelling  clairvoyance,"  with  a  corresponding  visibility  of  my 
own  phantasm  to  other  persons  in  the  scenes  which  I  spiritually  visit. 
No  obvious  halting-place,  I  say;  for  the  point  which  at  first  seems  abruptly 
transitional  has  been  already  shown  to  be  only  the  critical  point  of  a  con- 
tinuous curve.  I  mean,  of  course,  the  point  where  consciousness  is  dupli- 
cated —  where  each  segment  of  the  personality  begins  to  possess  a  separate 
and  definite,  but  contemporaneous  stream  of  memory  and  perception. 
That  these  can  exist  concurrently  in  the  same  organism  our  study  of  hyp- 
notism has  already  shown,  and  our  study  of  motor  automatisms  will  still 
further  prove  to  us. 

Dissociation  of  personality,  combined  with  activity  in  the  metetherial 
environment;  such,  in  the  phraseology  used  in  this  book,  will  be  the  formula 
which  will  most  easily  cover  those  actually  observed  facts  of  veridical 
apparition  on  which  we  must  now  enter  at  considerable  length.  And 
after  this  preliminary  explanation  I  shall  ask  leave  to  use  for  clearness  in  my 
argument  such  words  as  are  simplest  and  shortest,  however-  vague  or  dis- 
putable their  connotation  may  be.  I  must  needs,  for  instance,  use  the 
word  "spirit,"  when  I  speak  of  that  unknown  fraction  of  a  man's  per- 
sonality —  not  the  supraliminal  fraction  —  which  we  discern  as  operating 
before  or  after  death  in  the  metetherial  environment.  For  this  conception 
I  can  find  no  other  term,  but  by  the  word  spirit  I  wish  to  imply  nothing 
more  definite  than  this.  Of  the  spirit's  relation  to  space,  or  (which  is  a 
part  of  the  same  problem)  to  its  own  spatial  manifestation  in  definite  form, 
something  has  already  been  said,  and  there  will  be  more  to  say  hereafter. 
And  similarly  those  terms,  invader  or  invaded,  from  whose  strangeness  and 


192  CHAPTER   VI 

barbarity  our  immediate  discussion  began,  will  depend  for  their  meaning 
upon  conceptions  which  the  evidence  itself  must  gradually  supply. 

That  evidence,  as  it  now  lies  before  us,  is  perplexingly  various  both 
in  content  and  quality.  For  some  of  the  canons  needed  in  its  analysis 
I  have  already  referred  the  reader  to  extracts  from  Edmund  Gurney's 
writings.  Certain  points  must  still  be  mentioned  here  before  the  narra- 
tive begins. 

It  must  be  remembered,  in  the  first  place,  that  all  these  veridical  or 
coincidental  cases  stand  out  together  as  a  single  group  from  a  background 
of  hallucinations  which  involve  no  coincidence,  which  have  no  claim  to 
veridicality.  If  purely  subjective  hallucinations  of  the  senses  affected 
insane  or  disordered  brains  alone,  —  as  was  pretty  generally  the  assump- 
tion, even  in  scientific  circles,  when  our  inquiry  began,  —  our  task  would 
have  been  much  easier  than  it  is.  But  while  there  can  be  no  question 
as  to  the  sound  and  healthy  condition  of  the  great  majority  of  our  per- 
cipients, Edmund  Gurney's  "Census  of  Hallucinations"  of  1884,  confirmed 
and  extended  by  the  wider  inquiry  of  1889-189 2,  showed  a  frequency, 
previously  unsuspected,  of  scattered  hallucinations  among  sane  and 
healthy  persons,  the  experience  being  often  unique  in  a  lifetime,  and 
in  no  apparent  connection  with  any  other  circumstance  whatever.1 

Since  casual  hallucinations  of  the  sane,  then,  are  thus  frequent,  we  can 
hardly  venture  to  assume  that  they  are  all  veridical.  And  the  existence  of 
all  these  perhaps  merely  subjective  hallucinations  greatly  complicates  our 
investigation  of  veridical  hallucinations.  It  prevents  the  mere  existence 
of  the  hallucinations,  however  strangely  interposed  in  ordinary  life,  from 
having  any  evidential  value,  and  throws  us  upon  evidence  afforded  by 
external  coincidence;  —  on  the  mere  fact,  to  put  such  a  coincidence  in  its 
simplest  form,  that  I  see  a  phantom  of  my  friend  Smith  at  the  moment 
when  Smith  is  unexpectedly  dying  at  a  distance.  A  coincidence  of  this 
general  type,  if  it  occurs,  need  not  be  difficult  to  substantiate,  and  we  have 
in  fact  substantiated  it  with  more  or  less  completeness  in  several  hundred 
cases. 

The  primd  facie  conclusion  will  obviously  be  that  there  is  a  causal 
connection  between  the  death  and  the  apparition.  To  overcome  this 
presumption  it  would  be  necessary  either  to  impugn  the  accuracy  of  the 
informant's  testimony,  or  to  show  that  chance  alone  might  have  brought 
about  the  observed  coincidences. 

On  both  of  these  questions  there  have  been  full  and  repeated  discus- 
sions elsewhere.  I  need  not  re-argue  them  at  length  here,  but  will  refer 
1  See  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  x.  pp.  25-422. 


SENSORY   AUTOMATISM  193 

the  reader  to  the  "  Report  on  the  Census  of  Hallucinations,"  Proceedings 
S.P.R.,  vol.  x.,  where  every  source  of  error  as  yet  discovered  has  been 
pretty  fully  considered. 

To  that  volume  also  I  must  refer  him  for  a  thorough  discussion  of  the 
arguments  for  and  against  chance-coincidence.  The  conclusion  to  which 
the  Committee  unanimously  came  is  expressed  in  the  closing  words: 
"  Between  deaths  and  apparitions  of  the  dying  person  a  connection  exists 
which  is  not  due  to  chance  alone." 

We  have  a  right,  I  think,  to  say  that  only  by  another  census  of  hallu- 
cinations, equally  careful,  more  extensive,  and  yielding  absolutely 
different  results,  could  this  conclusion  be  overthrown. 

In  forming  this  conclusion,  apparitions  at  death  are  of  course  selected, 
because,  death  being  an  unique  event  in  man's  earthly  existence,  the 
coincidences  between  death  and  apparitions  afford  a  favourable  case  for 
statistical  treatment.  But  the  coincidences  between  apparitions  and 
crises  other  than  death,  although  not  susceptible  of  the  same  arithmetical 
precision  of  estimate,  are,  as  will  be  seen,  quite  equally  convincing.  To 
this  great  mass  of  spontaneous  cases  we  must  now  turn. 

The  arrangement  of  these  cases  is  not  easy;  nor  are  they  capable  of 
being  presented  in  one  logically  consequent  series. 

But  the  conception  of  psychical  invasion  or  excursion  on  which  I 
have  already  dwelt  has  at  any  rate  this  advantage,  that  it  is  sufficiently 
fundamental  to  allow  of  our  arrangement  of  all  our  recorded  cases  — 
perhaps  of  all  possible  cases  of  apparition  —  in  accordance  with  its  own 
lines. 

Our  scheme  will  include  all  observable  telepathic  action,  from  the 
faint  currents  which  we  may  imagine  to  be  continually  passing  between 
man  and  man,  up  to  the  point  —  reserved  for  the  following  chapter  — 
where  one  of  the  parties  to  the  telepathic  intercourse  has  definitely  quitted 
the  flesh.  The  first  term  in  our  series  must  be  conveniently  vague:  the 
last  must  lead  us  to  the  threshold  of  the  spiritual  world. 

I  must  begin  with  cases  where  the  action  of  the  excursive  fragment 
of  the  personality  is  of  the  weakest  kind  —  the  least  capable  of  affecting 
other  observers,  or  of  being  recalled  into  the  agent's  own  waking  memory. 

Such  cases,  naturally  enough,  will  be  hard  to  bring  up  to  evidential 
level.  It  must  depend  on  mere  chance  whether  these  weak  and  aimless 
psychical  excursions  are  observed  at  all;  or  are  observed  in  such  a  way  as 
to  lead  us  to  attribute  them  to  anything  more  than  the  subjective  fancy  of 
the  observers. 

How  can  a  casual  vision  —  say,  of  a  lady  sitting  in  her  drawing-room, 


194  CHAPTER   VI 

—  of  a  man  returning  home  at  six  o'clock  —  be  distinguished  from  memory- 
images  on  the  one  hand  and  from  what  I  may  term  "expectation-images" 
on  the  other?  The  picture  of  the  lady  may  be  a  slightly  modified  and 
externalised  reminiscence;  the  picture  of  the  man  walking  up  to  the  door 
may  be  a  mere  projection  of  what  the  observer  was  hoping  to  see. 

I  have  assumed  that  these  phantoms  coincided  with  no  marked  event. 
The  lady  may  have  been  thinking  of  going  to  her  drawing-room;  the  man 
may  have  been  in  the  act  of  walking  home;  —  but  these  are  trivial 
circumstances  which  might  be  repeated  any  day. 

Yet,  however  trivial,  almost  any  set  of  human  circumstances  are  suffi- 
ciently complex  to  leave  room  for  coincidence.  If  the  sitter  in  the 
drawing-room  is  wearing  a  distinctive  article  of  dress,  never  seen  by  the 
percipient  until  it  is  seen  in  the  hallucination;  —  if  the  phantasmal  home- 
ward traveller  is  carrying  a  parcel  of  unusual  shape,  which  the  real  man 
does  afterwards  unexpectedly  bring  home  with  him;  —  there  may  be 
reason  to  think  that  there  is  a  causal  connection  between  the  apparent 
agent's  condition  at  the  moment,  and  the  apparition. 

In  Appendix  VI.  A,  I  quote  one  of  these  "arrival-cases,"  so  to  term 
them,  where  the  peculiarity  of  dress  was  such  as  to  make  the  coincidence 
between  vision  and  reality  well  worth  attention.  The  case  is  interesting 
also  as  one  of  our  earliest  examples  of  a  psychical  incident  carefully  re- 
corded at  the  time;  so  that  after  the  lapse  of  nearly  forty  years  it  was  possible 
to  correct  the  percipient's  surviving  recollection  by  his  contemporary 
written  statement. 

In  these  arrival  cases,  there  is,  I  say,  a  certain  likelihood  that  the  man's 
mind  may  be  fixed  on  his  return  home,  so  that  his  phantasm  is  seen  in 
what  might  seem  both  to  himself  and  to  others  the  most  probable  place.1 
But  there  are  other  cases  where  a  man's  phantasm  is  seen  in  a  place 
where  there  is  no  special  reason  for  his  appearing,  although  these  places 
seem  always  to  lie  within  the  beat  and  circuit  of  his  habitual  thought. 

In  such  cases  there  are  still  possible  circumstances  which  may  give 
reason  to  think  that  the  apparition  is  causally  connected  with  the  apparent 
agent.  The  phantasm  of  a  given  person  may  be  seen  repeatedly  by  different 
percipients,  or  it  may  be  seen  collectively  by  several  persons  at  a  time; 
or  it  may  combine  both  these  evidential  characteristics,  and  may  be  seen 
several  times  and  by  several  persons  together. 

Now  considering  the  rarity  of  phantasmal  appearances,  considering 
that  not  one  person  in  (say)  five  thousand  is  ever  phantasmally  seen  at  all; 
the  mere  fact  that  a  given  person's  phantasm  is  seen  even  twice,  by  different 

1  See  also  Phantasms  of  the  Living  vol.  ii.  p.  96  [§  653],  and  for  an  auditory 
case,  ibid.  p.  100  [§  655]. 


SENSORY   AUTOMATISM  195 

percipients  (for  we  cannot  count  a  second  appearance  to  the  same  per- 
cipient as  of  equal  value),  is  in  itself  a  remarkable  fact;  while  if  this  happens 
three  or  jour  times  (as  in  the  case  of  Mrs.  Hawkins)1  we  can  hardly  ascribe 
such  a  sequence  of  rare  occurrences  to  chance  alone. 

Again,  impressive  as  is  the  repetition  of  the  apparition  in  these  cases, 
it  is  yet  less  so  to  my  mind  than  the  collective  character  of  some  of  the  per- 
ceptions. In  Mrs.  Hawkins's  first  case  there  were  two  simultaneous 
percipients,  and  in  Canon  Bourne's  first  case  (given  in  Appendix  VI.  B) 
there  were  three. 

And  we  now  come  to  other  cases,  where  the  percipience  has  been  col- 
lective, although  it  has  not  been  repeated.  There  is  a  case2  where  two 
persons  at  one  moment  —  a  moment  of  no  stress  or  excitement  whatever 

—  see  the  phantasm  of  a  third;  that  third  person  being  perhaps  occupied 
with  some  supraliminal  or  subliminal  thought  of  the  scene  in  the  midst 
of  which  she  is  phantasmally  discerned.  Both  the  percipients  supposed 
at  the  moment  that  it  was  their  actual  sister  whom  they  saw;  and  one  can 
hardly  fancy  that  a  mere  act  of  tranquil  recognition  of  the  figure  by  one 
percipient  would  communicate  to  the  other  percipient  a  telepathic  shock 
such  as  would  make  her  see  the  same  figure  as  well. 

The  question  of  the  true  import  of  collectivity  of  percipience  renews 
in  another  form  that  problem  of  invasion  to  which  our  evidence  so  often 
brings  us  back.  When  two  or  three  persons  see  what  seems  to  be  the 
same  phantom  in  the  same  place  and  at  the  same  time,  does  that  mean 
that  that  special  part  of  space  is  somehow  modified  ?  or  does  it  mean  that 
a  mental  impression,  conveyed  by  the  distant  agent  —  the  phantom- 
begetter  —  to  one  of  the  percipients  is  reflected  telepathically  from  that 
percipient's   mind  to   the  minds  of  the  other  —  as  it  were  secondary 

—  percipients?  The  reader  already  knows  that  I  prefer  the  former 
of  these  views.  And  I  observe  —  as  telling  against  that  other  view, 
of  psychical  contagion  —  that  in  certain  collective  cases  we  discern  no 
probable  link  between  any  one  of  the  percipient  minds  and  the  distant 
agent. 

In  some  of  that  group  of  collective  cases  which  we  are  at  this  moment 
considering,  this  absence  of  link  is  noticeable  in  a  special  way.  There  is 
nothing  to  show  that  any  thought  or  emotion  was  passing  from  agent  to 
percipients  at  the  moment  of   the  apparition.     On   the   contrary,   the 

1  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  ii.  p.  78  [§  645].    See  also  op.  cit.,  p.  82  et  seq. 

2  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  x.  p.  306  [§  646].  See  also  the  case  in  Phantasms  of 
the  Living  (vol.  ii.  p.  217)  [§  647],  where  an  apparition  was  seen  by  its  original  and 
by  others  at  the  same  time. 


1 96  CHAPTER   VI 

indication  is  that  there  is  no  necessary  connection  whatever  between  the 
agent's  condition  of  mind  at  the  moment  and  the  fact  that  such  and  such 
persons  observed  his  phantasm.  The  projection  of  the  phantasm,  if  I  may 
so  term  it,  seems  a  matter  wholly  automatic  on  the  agent's  part,  as  auto- 
matic and  meaningless  as  a  dream. 

Assuming,  then,  that  this  is  so  —  that  these  bilocations  or  self-projec- 
tions to  a  point  apparently  remote  from  one's  body  do  occur  without  any 
appreciable  stimulus  from  without,  and  in  moments  of  apparent  calm 
and  indifference  —  in  what  way  will  this  fact  tend  to  modify  previous 
conceptions  ? 

It  suggests  that  the  continuous  dream-life  which  we  must  suppose  to 
run  concurrently  with  our  waking  life  is  potent  enough  to  effect  from  time 
to  time  enough  of  dissociation  to  enable  some  element  of  the  personality 
to  be  perceived  at  a  distance  from  the  organism.  How  much  of  conscious- 
ness, if  any,  may  be  felt  at  the  point  where  the  excursive  phantasm  is  seen, 
we  cannot  say.  But  the  notion  that  a  mere  incoherent  quasi-dream  should 
thus  become  perceptible  to  others  is  fully  in  accordance  with  the  theories 
suggested  in  this  work.  For  I  regard  subliminal  operation  as  continuously 
going  on,  and  I  hold  that  the  degree  of  dissociation  which  can  generate  a 
perceptible  phantasm  is  not  necessarily  a  profound  change,  since  that 
perceptibility  depends  so  largely  upon  idiosyncrasies  of  agent  and  per- 
cipient as  yet  wholly  unexplained. 

That  special  idiosyncracy  on  the  part  of  the  agent  which  tends  to  make 
his  phantasm  easily  visible  has  never  yet,  so  far  as  I  know,  received  a 
name,  although  for  convenience'  sake  it  certainly  needs  one.  I  propose  to 
use  the  Greek  word  xf/vxoppayS),  which  means  strictly  "to  let  the  soul  break 
loose,"  and  from  which  I  form  the  words  psychorrhagy  and  psychorrhagic, 
on  obvious  analogies.  When  I  say  that  the  agents  in  these  cases  were 
born  with  the  psychorrhagic  diathesis,  I  express  what  I  believe  to  be  an 
important  fact,  physiological  as  well  as  psychological,  in  terms  which 
seem  pedantic,  but  which  are  the  only  ones  which  mean  exactly  what  the 
facts  oblige  me  to  say.  That  which  "breaks  loose"  on  my  hypothesis 
is  not  (as  in  the  Greek  use  of  the  word)  the  whole  principle  of  life  in  the 
organism;  rather  it  is  some  psychical  element  probably  of  very  varying 
character,  and  definable  mainly  by  its  power  of  producing  a  phantasm, 
perceptible  by  one  or  more  persons,  in  some  portion  or  other  of  space. 
I  hold  that  this  phantasmogenetic  effect  may  be  produced  either  on  the 
mind,  and  consequently  on  the  brain  of  another  person  —  in  which  case 
he  may  discern  the  phantasm  somewhere  in  his  vicinity,  according  to  his 
own  mental  habit  or  prepossession  —  or  else  directly  on  a  portion  of  space, 


SENSORY  AUTOMATISM  197 

"out  in  the  open,"  in  which  case  several  persons  may  simultaneously 
discern  the  phantasm  in  that  actual  spot. 

Let  us  apply  this  view  to  one  of  our  most  bizarre  and  puzzling  cases 
—  that  of  Canon  Bourne  (see  Appendix  VI.  B).  Here  I  conceive  that 
Canon  Bourne,  while  riding  in  the  hunting-field,  was  also  subliminally 
dreaming  of  himself  (imagining  himself  with  some  part  of  his  submerged 
consciousness)  as  having  had  a  fall,  and  as  beckoning  to  his  daughters  — 
an  incoherent  dream  indeed,  but  of  a  quite  ordinary  type.  I  go  on  to 
suppose  that,  Canon  Bourne  being  born  with  the  psychorrhagic  diathesis, 
a  certain  psychical  element  so  far  detached  itself  from  his  organism  as 
to  affect  a  certain  portion  of  space  —  near  the  daughters  of  whom  he  was 
thinking  —  to  effect  it,  I  say,  not  materially  nor  even  optically,  but  yet  in 
such  a  manner  that  to  a  certain  kind  of  immaterial  and  non-optical  sensi- 
tivity a  phantasm  of  himself  and  his  horse  became  discernible.  His  horse 
was  of  course  as  purely  a  part  of  the  phantasmal  picture  as  his  hat.  The 
non-optical  distinctness  with  which  the  words  printed  inside  his  hat  were 
seen  indicates  that  it  was  some  inner  non-retinal  vision  which  received 
the  impression  from  the  phantasmogenetic  centre.  The  other  phantasmal 
appearance  of  Canon  Bourne  chanced  to  affect  only  one  percipient,  but 
was  of  precisely  the  same  character;  and  of  course  adds,  so  far  as  it  goes, 
to  the  plausibility  of  the  above  explanation. 

That  explanation,  indeed,  suffers  from  the  complexity  and  apparent 
absurdity  inevitable  in  dealing  with  phenomena  which  greatly  transcend 
known  laws;  but  on  the  other  hand  it  does  in  its  way  colligate  Canon 
Bourne's  case  with  a  good  many  others  of  odd  and  varying  types.  Thus 
appearances  such  as  Canon  Bourne's  are  in  my  view  exactly  parallel  to 
the  hauntings  ascribed  to  departed  spirits.  There  also  we  find  a  psychor- 
rhagic diathesis  —  a  habit  or  capacity  on  the  part  of  certain  spirits  of 
detaching  some  psychical  element  in  such  a  manner  as  to  form  a  phantasmal 
picture,  which  represents  the  spirit  as  going  through  some  dream-like 
action  in  a  given  place. 

The  phantasmogenetic  centre  may  thus,  in  my  view,  be  equally  well 
produced  by  an  incarnate  or  by  a  discarnate  spirit. 

Again,  my  hypothesis  of  a  real  modification  of  a  part  of  space,  trans- 
forming it  into  a  phantasmogenetic  centre,  applies  to  a  phantasmal  voice 
just  as  well  as  to  a  phantasmal  figure.  The  voice  is  not  heard  acoustically 
any  more  than  the  figure  is  seen  optically.  Yet  a  phantasmal  voice  may 
in  a  true  sense  "come  from"  a  given  spot. 

These  psychorrhagic  cases  are,  I  think,  important  as  showing  us  the 
earliest   or   feeblest   stages   of  self-projection  —  where   the   dissociation 


i98  CHAPTER  VI 

belongs  to  the  dream-stratum  —  implicating  neither  the  supraliminal  will 
nor  the  profounder  subliminal  strata. 

And  now  let  us  pass  on  from  these,  which  hardly  concern  anybody 
beyond  the  phantom-begetter  himself  —  and  do  not  even  add  anything 
to  his  own  knowledge  —  to  cases  where  there  is  some  sort  of  communica- 
tion from  one  mind  to  another,  or  some  knowledge  gained  by  the  excursive 
spirit. 

It  is  impossible  to  arrange  these  groups  in  one  continuous  logical  series. 
But,  roughly  speaking,  the  degree  in  which  the  psychical  collision  is  recol- 
lected on  either  side  may  in  some  degree  indicate  its  intensity,  and  may 
serve  as  a  guide  to  our  provisional  arrangement. 

Following  this  scheme  I  shall  begin  with  a  group  of  cases  which  seem 
to  promise  but  little  information,  —  cases,  namely,  where  A,  the  agent, 
in  some  way  impresses  or  invades  P,  the  percipient,  —  but  nevertheless 
neither  A  nor  P  retains  in  supraliminal  memory  any  knowledge  of  what 
has  occurred. 

Now  to  begin  with  we  shall  have  no  difficulty  in  admitting  that  cases 
of  this  type  are  likely  often  to  occur.  The  psychical  rapprochement  of 
telepathy  takes  place,  ex  hypothesis  in  a  region  which  is  subliminal  for  both 
agent  and  percipient,  and  from  whence  but  few  and  scattered  impressions 
rise  for  either  of  them  above  the  conscious  threshold.  Telepathy  will 
thus  probably  operate  far  more  continuously  than  our  scattered  glimpses 
would  in  themselves  suggest. 

But  how  can  we  outside  inquirers  know  anything  of  telepathic  incidents 
which  the  principals  themselves  fail  altogether  to  remember? 

In  ordinary  life  we  may  sometimes  learn  from  bystanders  incidents 
which  we  cannot  learn  from  the  principals  themselves.  Can  there  be 
bystanders  who  look  on  at  a  psychical  invasion? 

The  question  is  of  much  theoretical  import.  On  my  view  that  there 
is  a  real  transference  of  something  from  the  agent,  involving  an  alteration 
of  some  kind  in  a  particular  part  of  space,  there  might  theoretically  be 
some  bystander  who  might  discern  that  alteration  in  space  more  clearly 
than  the  person  for  whose  benefit,  so  to  say,  the  alteration  was  made.  If, 
on  the  other  hand,  what  has  happened  is  merely  a  transference  of  some 
impulse  afrom  mind  to  mind";  —  then  one  can  hardly  understand  how 
any  mind  except  the  mind  aimed  at  could  perceive  the  telepathic  impres- 
sion. Yet,  in  collective  cases,  persons  in  whom  the  agent  feels  no  interest, 
nay,  of  whose  presence  along  with  the  intended  percipient  he  is  not  aware, 
do  in  fact  receive  the  impression  in  just  the  same  way  as  that  intended 
percipient  himself,    This  was  explained  by  Gurney  as  probably  due  to  a 


SENSORY   AUTOMATISM  199 

fresh  telepathic  transmission,  —  this  time  from  the  due  or  original  per- 
cipient's mind  to  the  minds  of  his  neighbours  of  the  moment. 

Such  a  supposition,  however,  in  itself  a  difficult  one,  becomes  much 
more  difficult  when  the  telepathic  impulse  has  never,  so  far  as  we  know, 
penetrated  into  the  due  or  intended  percipient's  mind  at  all.  If  in  such  a 
case  a  bystander  perceives  the  invading  figure,  I  must  think  that  he  per- 
ceives it  merely  as  a  bystander,  —  not  as  a  person  telepathically  influenced 
by  the  intended  percipient,  who  does  not  in  fact  perceive  anything  what- 
soever. I  quote  in  illustration  a  bizarre  but  well-attested  case  (see  Ap- 
pendix VI.  C)  which  this  explanation  seems  to  fit  better  than  any  other. 

In  a  somewhat  similar  case1  there  is  strong  attestation  that  a  sailor, 
watching  by  a  dying  comrade,  saw  figures  around  his  hammock,  appar- 
ently representing  the  dying  man's  family,  in  mourning  garb.  The  family, 
although  they  had  no  ordinary  knowledge  of  the  sailor's  illness,  had  been 
alarmed  by  noises,  etc.,  which  rightly  or  wrongly  they  took  as  indications 
of  some  danger  to  him.  I  conceive,  then,  that  the  wife  paid  a  psychical 
visit  to  her  husband;  and  I  take  the  mourning  garb  and  the  accompanying 
children's  figures  to  be  symbolical  accompaniments,  representing  her 
thought,  "My  children  will  be  orphans."  I  think  this  more  likely  than 
that  the  sailor's  children  also  should  have  possessed  this  rare  peculiarity 
of  becoming  perceptible  at  a  distant  point  in  space.  And  secondary 
figures,  as  we  shall  see  later  on,  are  not  uncommon  in  such  telepathic 
presentations.  One  may  picture  oneself  as  though  holding  a  child  by 
the  hand,  or  even  driving  in  a  carriage  and  pair,  as  vividly  as  though  carry- 
ing an  umbrella  or  walking  across  a  room;  and  one  may  be  thus  pictured 
to  others. 

And  here  I  note  a  gradual  transition  to  the  next  large  class  of  cases 
on  which  I  am  about  to  enter.  I  am  about  to  deal  with  telcesthesia;  — 
with  cases  where  an  agent-percipient  —  for  he  is  both  in  one  —  makes  a 
clairvoyant  excursion  (of  a  more  serious  type  than  the  mere  psychorrhagies 
already  described),  and  brings  back  some  memory  of  the  scene  which  he 
has  psychically  visited.  Now,  of  course,  it  may  happen  that  he  fails  to 
bring  back  any  such  memory,  or  that  if  he  does  bring  it  back,  he  tells  no 
one  about  it.  In  such  cases,  just  as  in  the  telepathic  cases  of  which  I 
have  just  spoken,  the  excursive  phantom  may  possibly  be  observed  by  a 
bystander,  and  the  circumstances  may  be  such  as  to  involve  some  coin- 
cidence which  negatives  the  supposition  of  the  bystander's  mere  subjec- 
tive fancy.     Such,  I  think,  is  the  case  which  I  give  in  Appendix  VI.  D. 

There  is  a  similar  case  in  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  ii.  p.  541,  where 

1  See  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  ii.  p.  144  [651  A]  and  ibid.  p.  61  [§  651]. 


200  CHAPTER   VI 

a  girl,  who  is  corporeally  present  in  a  certain  drawing-room,  is  seen  phan- 
tasmally  in  a  neighbouring  grove,  whither  she  herself  presently  goes  and 
hangs  herself. 

Ponderings  on  projected  suicide  form  perhaps  the  strongest  instance 
of  mental  preoccupation  with  a  particular  spot.  But  of  course,  in  our 
ignorance  of  the  precise  quality  of  thought  or  emotion  needed  to  prompt 
a  psychical  excursion,  we  need  not  be  surprised  to  find  such  an  excursion 
observed  on  some  occasions  as  trivial  as  the  "arrival-case"  of  Col.  Reed, 
with  which  I  prefaced  the  mere  psychorrhagic  cases. 

Again,  there  is  a  strange  case,1  which  comes  to  us  on  good  authority, 
where  we  must  suppose  one  man's  subliminal  impulse  to  have  created 
a  picture  of  himself,  his  wife,  a  carriage  and  a  horse,  persistent  enough 
to  have  been  watched  for  some  seconds  at  least  by  three  observers  in  one 
place,  and  by  a  fourth  and  independent  observer  at  another  point  in  the 
moving  picture's  career.  The  only  alternative,  if  the  narrative  be  ac- 
cepted as  substantially  true,  will  be  the  hypothesis  before  alluded  to  of 
the  flashing  of  an  impending  scene,  as  in  crystal-vision,  from  some  source 
external  to  any  of  the  human  minds  concerned.  I  need  hardly  at  this 
point  repeat  that  in  my  view  the  wife  and  the  horse  will  be  as  purely  a 
part  of  the  man's  conception  of  his  own  aspect  or  environment  as  the  coat 
on  his  back. 

And  here,  for  purposes  of  comparison,  I  must  refer  to  one  of  the  most 
bizarre  cases  in  our  collection.2  Four  credible  persons,  to  some  extent 
independently,  see  a  carriage  and  pair,  with  two  men  on  the  box  and  an 
inside  occupant,  under  circumstances  which  make  it  impossible  that  the 
carriage  was  real.  Now  this  vision  cannot  have  been  precognitive;  nothing 
of  the  kind  occurred  for  years  after  it,  nor  well  could  occur;  and  I  am  forced 
to  regard  it  as  the  externalisation  of  some  dream,  whether  of  an  incarnate 
or  of  a  discarnate  mind.  The  parallel  between  this  case  and  the  one  men- 
tioned above  tends  therefore  to  show  that  the  first,  in  spite  of  the  para- 
phernalia of  wife,  horse,  and  dog-cart,  may  have  been  the  outcome  of  a 
single  waking  dream;  —  of  the  phantasmogenetic  dissociation  of  elements 
of  one  sole  personality. 

In  the  cases  which  I  have  just  been  discussing  there  has  been  a 
psychical  excursion,  with  its  possibilities  of  clairvoyance;  but  the  excursive 
element  has  not  brought  home  any  assignable  knowledge  to  the  supra- 
liminal personality.  I  go  on  now  to  cases  where  such  knowledge  has 
thus  been  garnered.    But  here  there  is  need  of  some  further  pause,  to 

1  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  ii.  p.  97  [654  A]. 

2  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  ii.  p.  194  [654  B]. 


SENSORY   AUTOMATISM  201 

consider  a  little  in  how  many  ways  we  can  imagine  that  knowledge  to 
be  reached. 

Firstly,  the  distant  knowledge  may,  it  would  seem,  be  reached  through 
hyperesthesia,  —  an  extended  power  of  the  ordinary  senses.  Secondly, 
it  sometimes  seems  to  come  through  crystal-gazing  or  its  correlative  shell- 
hearing,  —  artifices  which  seem  to  utilise  the  ordinary  senses  in  a  new 
way.  And  besides  these  two  avenues  to  distant  knowledge  there  is  a  third, 
the  telepathic  avenue,  which,  as  we  have  already  surmised,  sometimes 
shades  off  into  the  purely  telesthetic;  when  no  distant  mind,  but  only 
the  distant  scene,  seems  to  be  attracting  the  excursive  spirit.  And  in  the 
fourth  place  we  must  remember  that  it  is  mainly  in  the  form  of  dream  or 
vision  that  the  most  striking  instances  of  telesthesia  which  I  have  as  yet 
recorded  have  come.  Can  we  in  any  way  harmonise  these  various  modes 
of  perception?  Can  we  discover  any  condition  of  the  percipient  which 
is  common  to  all? 

To  a  certain  limited  extent  such  co-ordination  is  possible.  In  each 
approach  to  telesthesia  in  turn  we  find  a  tendency  to  something  like  a 
dream-excursion.  Hyperesthesia,  in  the  first  place,  although  it  exists 
sometimes  in  persons  wide  awake,  is  characteristically  an  attribute  of 
sleep-waking  states. 

We  have  seen  in  discussing  hypnotic  experiments  that  it  is  sometimes 
possible  to  extend  the  subject's  perceptive  faculty  by  gradual  suggestion, 
so  far  as  to  transform  a  hyperesthesia  which  can  still  be  referred  to  the 
action  of  the  sense-organs  into  a  telaesthesia  which  cannot  be  so  referred. 
It  is  observable  that  percipients  in  such  cases  sometimes  describe  their 
sensation  as  that  of  receiving  an  impression,  or  seeing  a  picture  placed 
before  them;  sometimes  as  that  of  travelling  and  visiting  the  distant  scene 
or  person.  Or  the  feeling  may  oscillate  between  these  two  sensations, 
just  as  the  sense  of  time-relation  in  the  picture  shown  may  oscillate  between 
past,  present,  and  future. 

To  all  these  complex  sensations  the  phenomena  of  crystal-gazing  offer 
close  analogies.  I  have  already  remarked  on  the  curious  fact  that  the 
simple  artifice  of  gazing  into  a  speculum  should  prove  the  avenue  to  phe- 
nomena of  such  various  types.  There  may  be  very  different  origins  even 
for  pictures  which  in  the  crystal  present  very  similar  aspects;  and  certain 
sensations  do  also  accompany  these  pictures;  sensations  not  merely  of 
gazing  but  sometimes  (though  rarely)  of  partial  trance;  and  oftener  of 
bilocation;  —  of  psychical  presence  among  the  scenes  which  the  crystal 
has  indeed  initiated,  but  no  longer  seems  to  limit  or  to  contain. 

The  idea  of  psychical  excursion  thus  suggested  must,  however,  be 


202  CHAPTER   VI 

somehow  reconciled  with  the  frequently  symbolic  character  of  these  visions. 
The  features  of  a  crystal-vision  seem  often  to  be  no  mere  transcription  of 
material  facts,  but  an  abbreviated  selection  from  such  facts,  or  even  a  bold 
modification  of  such  facts  with  a  view  of  telling  some  story  more  quickly 
and  clearly.  We  are  familiar  with  the  same  kind  of  succession  of  s)Tn- 
bolical  scenes  in  dream,  or  in  waking  reverie.  And  of  course  if  an  intelli- 
gence outside  the  crystal-gazer's  mind  is  endeavouring  to  impress  him, 
this  might  well  be  the  chosen  way. 

And  moreover  through  all  telaesthetic  vision  some  element  of  similar 
character  is  wont  to  run  —  some  indication  that  mind  has  been  at  work 
upon  the  picture  —  that  the  scene  has  not  been  presented,  so  to  say,  in 
crude  objectivity,  but  that  there  has  been  some  choice  as  to  the  details 
discerned;  and  some  symbolism  in  the  way  in  which  they  are  pre- 
sented. 

Let  us  consider  how  these  characteristics  affect  different  theories  of 
the  mechanism  of  clairvoyance.  Let  us  suppose  first  that  there  is  some 
kind  of  transition  from  hyperesthesia  to  telaesthesia,  so  that  when  peri- 
pheral sensation  is  no  longer  possible,  central  perception  may  be  still 
operating  across  obstacles  otherwise  insurmountable. 

If  this  be  the  case,  it  seems  likely  that  central  perception  will  shape 
itself  on  the  types  of  perception  to  which  the  central  tracts  of  the  brain 
are  accustomed;  and  that  the  connaissance  superieure,  the  telaesthetic 
knowledge,  however  it  may  really  be  acquired,  will  present  itself  mainly 
as  clairvoyance  or  clairaudience  —  as  some  form  of  sight  or  sound.  Yet 
these  telaesthetic  sights  and  sounds  may  be  expected  to  show  some  trace 
of  their  unusual  origin.  They  may,  for  instance,  be  imperfectly  co-ordi- 
nated with  sights  and  sounds  arriving  through  external  channels;  and, 
since  they  must  in  some  way  be  a  translation  of  supernormal  impressions 
into  sensory  terms,  they  are  likely  to  show  something  symbolic  in  char- 
acter. 

This  tendency  to  subliminal  symbolism,  indeed,  meets  us  at  each  point 
of  our  inquiry.  As  an  instance  of  it  in  its  simplest  form,  I  may  mention 
a  case  where  a  botanical  student  passing  inattentively  in  front  of  the  glass 
door  of  a  restaurant  thought  that  he  had  seen  Verbascum  Thapsus  printed 
thereon.  The  real  word  was  Bouillon;  and  that  happens  to  be  the  trivial 
name  in  French  for  the  plant  Verbascum  Thapsus.  The  actual  optical 
perception  had  thus  been  subliminally  transformed;  the  words  Verbascum 
Thapsus  were  the  report  to  the  inattentive  supraliminal  self  by  a  sub- 
liminal self  more  interested  in  botany  than  in  dinner. 

Nay,  we  know  that  our  own  optical  perception  is  in  its  own  way  highly 


SENSORY  AUTOMATISM  203 

symbolic.  The  scene  which  the  baby  sees  instinctively,  —  which  the 
impressionist  painter  manages  to  see  by  a  sort  of  deliberate  self-simpli- 
fication, —  is  very  different  from  the  highly  elaborate  interpretation  and 
selection  of  blotches  of  colour  by  which  the  ordinary  adult  figures  to  him- 
self the  visible  world. 

Now  we  adults  stand  towards  this  subliminal  symbolism  in  much  the 
same  attitude  as  the  baby  stands  towards  our  educated  optical  symbolism. 
Just  as  the  baby  fails  to  grasp  the  third  dimension,  so  may  we  still  be  failing 
to  grasp  a  fourth;  —  or  whatever  be  the  law  of  that  higher  cognisance 
which  begins  to  report  fragmentarily  to  man  that  which  his  ordinary  senses 
cannot  discern. 

Assuredly  then  we  must  not  take  the  fact  that  any  knowledge  comes  to 
us  symbolically  as  a  proof  that  it  comes  to  us  from  a  mind  outside  our 
own.  The  symbolism  may  be  the  inevitable  language  in  which  one 
stratum  of  our  personality  makes  its  report  to  another.  The  symbolism, 
in  short,  may  be  either  the  easiest,  or  the  only  possible  psychical  record 
of  actual  objective  fact;  .whether  that  fact  be  in  the  first  instance  dis- 
cerned by  our  deeper  selves,  or  be  conveyed  to  us  from  other  minds  in 
this  form;  —  elaborated  for  our  mind's  digestion,  as  animal  food  has 
been  elaborated  for  our  body's  digestion,  from  a  primitive  crudity  of 
things. 

But  again  one  must  question,  on  general  idealistic  principles,  whether 
there  be  in  such  cases  any  real  distinction  between  symbolism  and  reality, 
—  between  subjective  and  objective  as  we  commonly  use  those  terms. 
The  resisting  matter  which  we  see  and  touch  has  "solid"  reality  for  minds 
so  constituted  as  to  have  the  same  subjective  feeling  awakened  by  it.  But 
to  other  minds,  endowed  with  other  forms  of  sensibility  —  minds  possibly 
both  higher  and  more  numerous  than  our  own  —  this  solid  matter  may 
seem  disputable  and  unreal,  while  thought  and  emotion,  perceived  in  ways 
unknown  to  us,  may  be  the  only  reality. 

This  material  world  constitutes,  in  fact,  a  "  privileged  case "  —  a  sim- 
plified example  —  among  all  discernible  worlds,  so  far  as  the  perception 
of  incarnate  spirits  is  concerned.  For  discarnate  spirits  it  is  no  longer  a 
privileged  case;  to  them  it  is  apparently  easier  to  discern  thoughts  and 
emotions  by  non-material  signs.1  But  they  need  not  therefore  be  wholly 
cut  off  from  discerning  material  things,  any  more  than  incarnate  spirits 
are  wholly  cut  off  from  discerning  immaterial  things  —  thoughts  and 
emotions  symbolised  in  phantasmal  form.  "The  ghost  in  man,  the  ghost 
that  once  was  man,"  to  use  Tennyson's  words,  have  each  of  them  to  over- 
1  See  Chapter  IX.,  passim. 


2o4  CHAPTER   VI 

come  by  empirical  artifices  certain  difficulties  which  are  of  different  type 
for  each,  but  are  not  insurmountable  by  either. 

These  reflections,  applicable  at  various  points  in  our  argument,  have 
seemed  specially  needed  when  we  had  first  to  attack  the  meaning  of  the 
so-called  "travelling  clairvoyance,"  of  which  instances  were  given  in  the 
chapter  on  hypnotism.  It  was  needful  to  consider  how  far  there  was  a 
continuous  transition  between  these  excursions  and  directer  transferences 
between  mind  and  mind,  —  between  telaesthesia  and  telepathy.  It  now 
seems  to  me  that  such  a  continuous  transition  may  well  exist,  and  that 
there  is  no  absolute  gulf  between  the  supernormal  perception  of  ideas 
as  existing  in  other  minds,  and  the  supernormal  perception  of  what  we 
know  as  matter.  All  matter  may,  for  aught  we  know,  exist  as  an  idea 
in  some  cosmic  mind,  with  which  mind  each  individual  spirit  may  be  in 
relation,  as  fully  as  with  individual  minds.  The  difference  perhaps  lies 
rather  in  the  fact  that  there  may  be  generally  a  summons  from  a  cognate 
mind  which  starts  the  so-called  agent's  mind  into  action;  his  invasion 
may  be  in  some  way  invited;  while  a  spiritual  excursion  among  inanimate 
objects  only  may  often  lack  an  impulse  to  start  it.  If  this  be  so,  it  would 
explain  the  fact  that  such  excursions  have  mainly  succeeded  under  the 
influence  of  hypnotic  suggestion. 

We  see  in  travelling  clairvoyance,1  just  as  we  see  in  crystal-visions,  a 
kind  of  fusion  of  all  our  forms  of  supernormal  faculty.  There  is  telepathy, 
telaesthesia,  retrocognition,  precognition;  and  in  the  cases  reported  by 
Cahagnet,  which  will  be  referred  to  in  Chapter  IX.,  there  is  apparently 
something  more  besides.  We  see,  in  short,  that  any  empirical  inlet  into 
the  metetherial  world  is  apt  to  show  us  those  powers,  which  we  try 
to  distinguish,  coexisting  in  some  synthesis  by  us  incomprehensible. 
Here,  therefore,  just  as  with  the  crystal-visions,  we  have  artificially  to 
separate  out  the  special  class  of  phenomena  with  which  we  wish  first  to 
deal. 

In  these  experiments,  then,  there  seems  to  be  an  independent  power 
of  visiting  almost  any  desired  place,  its  position  having  been  perhaps  first 
explained  by  reference  to  some  landmark  already  known.  The  clair- 
voyante  (I  use  the  female  word,  but  in  several  cases  a  man  or  boy  has 
shown  this  power)  will  frequently  miss  her  way,  and  describe  houses  or 
scenes  adjacent  to  those  desired.  Then  if  she  —  almost  literally  —  gets 
on  the  scent,  —  if  she  finds  some  place  which  the  man  whom  she  is  sent  to 

1  See  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  vii.  pp.  30-99  [572  A  and  573  B];  op.  tit.,  199- 
220  [573  C];  Zoist,  vol.  vii.  pp.  95-101,  vol.  ix.  p.  234,  vol.  xii.  pp.  249-52;  and 
Dr,  Fahnestock's  Statuvolism,  especially  pp.  127-35  and  221-32. 


SENSORY   AUTOMATISM  205 

seek  has  some  time  traversed,  —  she  follows  up  his  track  with  greater  ease, 
apparently  recognising  past  events  in  his  life  as  well  as  present  circum- 
stances. 

In  these  prolonged  experimental  cases  there  is  thus  time  enough  to 
allow  of  the  clairvoyante's  traversing  certain  places,  such  as  empty  rooms, 
factories,  and  the  like,  whither  no  assignable  link  from  any  living  person 
could  draw  her.  The  evidence  to  prove  telaesthesia,  unmixed  with  tele- 
pathy, has  thus  generally  come  incidentally  in  the  course  of  some  experi- 
ment mainly  telepathic  in  character. 

These  long  clairvoyant  wanderings  are  more  nearly  paralleled  by 
dreams  than  by  waking  hallucinations. 

In  a  case  which  I  will  here  quote  a  physician  is  impressed,  probably 
in  dream,  with  a  picture  of  a  special  place  in  a  street,  where  something 
is  happening,  which,  though  in  itself  unemotional  —  merely  that  a  man 
is  standing  and  talking  in  the  street  —  is  of  moment  to  the  physician,  who 
wants  to  get  unobtrusively  into  the  man's  house. 

From  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  i.  p.  267.  The  case  is  there  de- 
scribed as  coming  "  from  a  Fellow  of  the  College  of  Physicians,  who  fears 
professional  injury  if  he  were  'supposed  to  defend  opinions  at  variance 
with  general  scientific  belief,'  and  does  not  therefore  allow  his  name  to 
appear. " 

May  20th,  1884. 
Twenty  years  ago  [abroad]  I  had  a  patient,  wife  of  a  parson.  She 
had  a  peculiar  kind  of  delirium  which  did  not  belong  to  her  disease,  and 
perplexed  me.  The  house  in  which  she  lived  was  closed  at  midnight, 
that  is  —  the  outer  door  had  no  bell.  One  night  I  saw  her  at  nine.  When 
I  came  home  I  said  to  my  wife,  "I  don't  understand  that  case;  I  wish  I 
could  get  into  the  house  late."  We  went  to  bed  rather  early.  At  about 
one  o'clock  I  got  up.  She  said,  "  What  are  you  about  ?  are  you  not  well  ?  " 
I  said,  "Perfectly  so."  "Then  why  get  up?"  "Because  I  can  get  into 
that  house."  "How,  if  it  is  shut  up?"  "I  see  the  proprietor  standing 
under  the  lamp-post  this  side  of  the  bridge,  with  another  man."  "You 
have  been  dreaming."  "No,  I  have  been  wide  awake;  but  dreaming 
or  waking,  I  mean  to  try."  I  started  with  the  firm  conviction  that  I 
should  find  the  individual  in  question.  Sure  enough  there  he  was  under 
the  lamp-post,  talking  to  a  friend.  I  asked  him  if  he  was  going  home. 
(I  knew  him  very  well.)  He  said  he  was,  so  I  told  him  I  was  going  to 
see  a  patient,  and  would  accompany  him.  I  was  positively  ashamed 
to  explain  matters;  it  seemed  so  absurd  that  I  knew  he  would  not  believe 
me.  On  arriving  at  the  house  I  said,  "  Now  I  am  here,  I  will  drop  in  and 
see  my  patient."  On  entering  the  room  I  found  the  maid  giving  her  a 
tumbler  of  strong  grog.  The  case  was  clear;  it  was  as  I  suspected  —  de- 
lirium from  drink.    The  next  day  I.  delicately  spoke  to  the  husband  about 


2o6  CHAPTER   VI 

it.  He  denied  it,  and  in  the  afternoon  I  received  a  note  requesting  me 
not  to  repeat  the  visits.  Three  weeks  ago  I  was  recounting  the  story 
and  mentioned  the  name.  A  lady  present  said:  "That  is  the  name  of  the 
clergyman  in  my  parish,  at  B.,  and  his  wife  is  in  a  lunatic  asylum  from 
drink!" 

In  conversation  with  Gurney,  the  narrator  explained  that  the  vision 
—  though  giving  an  impression  of  externality  and  seen,  as  he  believes, 
with  open  eyes  —  was  not  definably  located  in  space.  He  had  never 
encountered  the  proprietor  in  the  spot  where  he  saw  him,  and  it  was  not 
a  likely  thing  that  he  should  be  standing  talking  in  the  streets  at  so  late 
an  hour. 

In  this  case  we  cannot  consider  either  the  drunken  patient  or  the  in- 
different proprietor  as  in  any  sense  the  agent.  Somehow  or  other  the 
physician's  own  persistent  wish  to  get  some  such  opportunity  induced  a 
collaboration  of  his  subliminal  with  his  supraliminal  self,  akin  to  the 
inspirations  of  genius.  Genius,  however,  operates  within  ordinary  sen- 
sory limits;  while  in  this  physician's  case  the  subliminal  self  exercised  its 
farthest-reaching  supernormal  powers. 

With  this  again  may  be  compared  a  case  in  Phantasms  of  the  Living 
(vol.  ii.  p.  368),  where  a  dreamer  seems  to  himself  to  be  present  in  the 
Thames  Tunnel  during  a  fatal  accident,  which  did  in  fact  occur  during 
that  night.  Here  again  the  drowned  workman  —  who  was  quite  unknown 
to  the  distant  dreamer  —  can  hardly  be  called  an  agent;  yet  it  may  have 
been  the  excitement  surrounding  his  death  which  attracted  the  dreamer's 
spirit  to  that  scene,  as  a  conflagration  might  attract  a  waking  night- 
wanderer. 

There  are,  on  the  other  hand,  a  good  many  cases  where  a  scene 
thus  discerned  in  a  flash  is  one  of  special  interest  to  the  percipient, 
although  no  one  in  the  scene  may  have  actually  wished  to  transfer  it  to 
him. 

A  case  again  of  a  somewhat  different  type  is  the  sudden  waking  vision 
of  Mr.  Gottschalk,1  who  sees  in  a  circle  of  light  the  chalked  hands  and 
ruffled  wrists  of  Mr.  Courtenay  Thorpe  —  a  well-known  actor  —  who 
was  opening  a  letter  of  Mr.  Gottschalk's  in  that  costume  at  the  time. 
Trivial  in  itself,  this  incident  illustrates  an  interesting  class  of  cases,  where 
a  picture  very  much  like  a  crystal-vision  suddenly  appears  on  a  wall  or 
even  in  the  air  with  no  apparent  background. 

I  know  one  or  two  persons  who  have  had  in  their  lives  one  single  round 
or  oval  hallucinatory  picture  of  this  kind,  of  which  no  interpretation  was 

1  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  ii.  p.  31  [662  B]. 


SENSORY  AUTOMATISM  207 

apparent, — a  curious  indication  of  some  subliminal  predisposition  towards 
this  somewhat  elaborate  form  of  message. 

Somewhat  like  Mr.  Gottschalk's  projection  of  his  picture  upon  a  back- 
ground of  dark  air  is  the  experience  of  Mrs.  Taunton.1  In  this  case  the 
phantasm  was  perfectly  external;  yet  it  certainly  did  not  hold  to  the  real 
objects  around  the  same  relation  as  a  figure  of  flesh  and  blood  would  have 
held;  it  was  in  a  peculiar  way  transparent.  Gurney  regards  this  trans- 
parency as  indicating  imperfect  externalisation  of  the  hallucinatory  image. 

My  own  phrase,  "  imperfect  co-ordination  of  inner  with  outward  vision,'* 
comes  to  much  the  same  thing,  and  seems  specially  applicable  to  Mrs. 
Taunton's  words:  "The  appearance  was  not  transparent  or  filmy,  but 
perfectly  solid-looking;  and  yet  I  could  somehow  see  the  orchestra,  not  through, 
but  behind  it"  There  are  a  few  cases  where  the  percipient  seems  to  see 
a  hallucinatory  figure  behind  him,  out  of  the  range  of  optical  vision.2  There 
is  of  course  no  reason  why  this  should  not  be  so,  —  even  if  a  part  of  space 
external  to  the  percipient's  brain  should  be  actually  affected. 

Mr.  Searle's  case  also  is  very  interesting.3  Here  Mrs.  Searle  faints 
when  visiting  a  house  a  few  miles  from  Mr.  Searle's  chambers  in  the  Temple. 
At  or  about  the  same  time,  he  sees  as  though  in  a  looking-glass,  upon  a 
window  opposite  him,  his  wife's  head  and  face,  white  and  bloodless. 

Gurney  suggests  that  this  was  a  transference  from  Mrs.  Searle's  mind 
simply  of  "the  idea  of  fainting,"  which  then  worked  itself  out  into  per- 
ception in  an  appropriate  fashion. 

Was  it  thus?  Or  did  Mr.  Searle  in  the  Temple  see  with  inner  vision 
his  wife's  head  as  she  lay  back  faint  and  pallid  in  Gloucester  Gardens? 
Our  nearest  analogy  here  is  plainly  crystal- vision;  and  crystal- visions,  as 
we  have  observed,  point  both  ways.  Sometimes  the  picture  in  the  crystal 
is  conspicuously  symbolical;  sometimes  it  seems  a  transcript  of  an  actual 
distant  scene. 

There  are  two  further  problems  which  occur  as  we  deal  with  each  class 
of  cases  in  turn,  —  the  problem  of  time-relations  and  the  problem  of  spirit- 
agency.  Can  an  incident  be  said  to  be  seen  clairvoyantly  if  it  is  seen  some 
hours  after  it  occurred?  Ought  we  to  say  that  a  scene  is  clairvoyantly 
visited,  or  that  it  is  spiritually  shown,  if  it  represents  a  still  chamber  of 
death,4  where  no  emotion  is  any  longer  stirring;  but  to  which  the  freed 
spirit  might  desire  to  attract  the  friend's  attention  and  sympathy? 

1  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  ii.  p.  37  [662  D], 

2  See  Journal  S.P.R.,  vol.  vii.  p.  25  [665  A]. 

3  Phantasms  0}  the  Living,  vol.  ii.  p.  35  [662  C]. 

4  See  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  i.  p.  265  [§  664]. 


208  CHAPTER   VI 

Such  problems  cannot  at  present  be  solved;  nor,  as  I  have  said,  can 
any  one  class  of  these  psychical  interchanges  be  clearly  demarcated  from 
other  classes.  Recognising  this,  we  must  explain  the  central  character- 
istics of  each  group  in  turn,  and  show  at  what  points  that  group  appears 
to  merge  into  the  next. 

And  now  we  come  to  that  class  of  cases  where  B  invades  A,  and  A 
perceives  the  invasion;  but  B  retains  no  memory  of  it  in  supraliminal  life. 
From  one  point  of  view,  as  will  be  seen,  this  is  just  the  reverse  of  the  class 
last  discussed  —  where  the  invader  remembered  an  invasion  which  the 
invaded  person  (when  there  was  one)  did  not  perceive. 

We  have  already  discussed  some  cases  of  this  sort  which  seemed  to  be 
psychorrhagic  —  to  have  occurred  without  will  or  purpose  on  the  part 
of  the  invader.  What  we  must  now  do  is  to  collect  cases  where  there  may 
probably  have  been  some  real  projection  of  will  or  desire  on  the  invader's 
part,  leading  to  the  projection  of  his  phantasm  in  a  manner  recognisable 
by  the  distant  friend  whom  he  thus  invades  —  yet  without  subsequent 
memory  of  his  own.  These  cases  will  be  intermediate  between  the  psy- 
chorrhagic cases  already  described  and  the  experimental  cases  on  which 
we  shall  presently  enter. 

In  the  case  of  Canon  Warburton  —  in  Chapter  IV.  —  the  person  under- 
going the  accident  did  recollect  having  had  a  vivid  thought  of  his  brother  at 
the  moment;  —  while  his  brother  on  the  other  hand  was  startled  from  a 
slight  doze  by  the  vision  of  the  scene  of  danger  as  then  taking  place;  —  the 
steep  stairs  and  the  falling  figure.  This  is  an  acute  crisis,  much  resembling 
impending  death  by  drowning,  etc.;  and  the  apparition  may  be  construed 
either  way  —  either  as  a  scene  clairvoyantly  discerned  by  Canon  Warbur- 
ton, owing,  as  I  say,  to  a  spasmodic  tightening  of  his  psychical  link  with 
his  brother,  or  as  a  sudden  invasion  on  that  brother's  part,  whose  very 
rapidity  perhaps  helped  to  prevent  his  remembering  it. 

The  case  given  in  Appendix  VI.  E  is  interesting,  both  evidentially 
and  from  its  intrinsic  character.  The  narrative,  printed  in  Phantasms 
oj  the  Living,  on  the  authority  of  one  only  of  the  witnesses  concerned, 
led  to  the  discovery  of  the  second  witness  —  whom  we  had  no  other  means 
of  finding  —  and  has  been  amply  corroborated  by  her  independent  account. 

The  case  stands  about  midway  between  psychorrhagic  cases  and  in- 
tentional self-projections,  and  is  clearly  of  the  nature  of  an  invasion,  since 
the  phantasm  was  seen  by  a  stranger  as  well  as  by  the  friend,  and  seemed 
to  both  to  be  moving  about  the  room.  The  figure,  that  is  to  say,  was 
adapted  to  the  percipient's  environment. 

Cases  of  this  general  character,  both  visual  and  auditory,  occupy  a 


SENSORY    AUTOMATISM  209 

great  part  of  Phantasms  0}  the  Living,  and  others  have  been  frequently 
quoted  in  the  S.P.R.  Journal  during  recent  years.1 

Of  still  greater  interest  is  the  class  which  comes  next  in  order  in  my 
ascending  scale  of  apparent  intensity;  the  cases,  namely,  where  there  is 
recollection  on  both  sides,  so  that  the  experience  is  reciprocal.2  These 
deserve  study,  for  it  is  by  noting  under  what  circumstances  these  spon- 
taneously reciprocal  cases  occur  that  we  have  the  best  chance  of  learning 
how  to  produce  them  experimentally.  It  will  be  seen  that  there  have 
been  various  degrees  of  tension  of  thought  on  the  agent's  part. 

And  here  comes  in  a  small  but  important  group  —  the  group  of  what 
I  may  call  death-compacts  prematurely  fulfilled.  We  shall  see  in  the 
next  chapter  that  the  exchange  of  a  solemn  promise  between  two  friends 
to  appear  to  one  another,  if  possible,  after  death  is  far  from  being  a  useless 
piece  of  sentiment.  Such  posthumous  appearances,  it  is  true,  may  be  in 
most  cases  impossible,  but  nevertheless  there  is  real  ground  to  believe 
that  the  previous  tension  of  the  will  in  that  direction  makes  it  more  likely 
that  the  longed-for  meeting  shall  be  accomplished.  If  so,  this  is  a  kind 
of  experiment,  and  an  experiment  which  all  can  make. 

Now  we  have  two  or  three  cases  where  this  compact  has  been  made, 
and  where  an  apparition  has  followed  —  but  before  and  not  after  the 
agent's  death  —  at  the  moment,  that  is  to  say,  of  some  dangerous  accident, 
when  the  sufferer  was  perhaps  all  but  drowned,  or  was  stunned,  or  other- 
wise insensible.3 

Lastly,  the  lessons  of  these  spontaneous  apparitions  have  been  con- 
firmed and  widened  by  actual  experiment.  It  is  plain  that  just  as  we  are 
not  confined  to  noting  small  spontaneous  telepathic  transferences  when 
they  occur,  but  can  also  endeavour  to  reproduce  them  by  experiment, 
so  also  we  can  endeavour  to  reproduce  experimentally  these  more  advanced 
telepathic  phenomena  of  the  invasion  of  the  presence  of  the  percipient 
by  the  agent.  It  is  to  be  hoped,  indeed,  that  such  experiment  may  become 
one  of  the  most  important  features  of  our  inquiry.  The  type  of  the  ex- 
periment is  somewhat  as  follows.  The  intending  agent  endeavours  by 
an  effort  at  self-concentration,  made  either  in  waking  hours  or  just  before 
sleep,  to  render  himself  perceptible  to  a  given  person  at  a  distance,  who, 
of  course,  must  have  no  reason  to  expect  a  phantasmal  visit  at  that  hour. 

1  For  examples  of  various  types  see  Journal  S.P.R. ,  vol.  vii.  p.  25;  vol.  v.  p.  68, 
and  op.  cit.,  p.  147  [665  A,  B  and  C]. 

2  See  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  ii.  p.  162;  op.  cit.,  p.  164;  Proceedings  S.P.R., 
vol.  vii.  p.  41  [666  A,  B  and  C]. 

See  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  i.  p.  527,  for  example  [667  A]. 


2io  CHAPTER    VI 

Independent  records  must  be  made  on  each  side,  of  all  attempts  made, 
and  of  all  phantoms  seen.  The  evidential  point  is,  of  course,  the  coin- 
cidence between  the  attempt  and  the  phantom,  whether  or  not  the  agent 
can  afterwards  remember  his  own  success.1 

Now  the  experimental  element  here  is  obviously  very  incomplete.  It 
consists  in  little  more  than  in  a  concentrated  desire  to  produce  an  effect 
which  one  can  never  explain,  and  seldom  fully  remember.  I  have  seen 
no  evidence  to  show  that  any  one  can  claim  to  be  an  adept  in  such  matters 
—  has  learned  a  method  of  thus  appearing  at  will.2  We  are  acting  in  the 
dark.  Yet  nevertheless  the  mere  fact  that  on  some  few  occasions  this 
strong  desire  has  actually  been  followed  by  a  result  of  this  extremely  in- 
teresting kind  is  one  of  the  most  encouraging  phenomena  in  our  whole 
research.  The  successes  indeed  have  borne  a  higher  proportion  to  the 
failures  than  I  should  have  ventured  to  hope.  But  nowhere  is  there  more 
need  of  persistent  and  careful  experimentation ;  —  nowhere,  I  may  add, 
have  emotions  quite  alien  from  Science  —  mere  groundless  fears  of  seeing 
anything  unusual  —  interfered  with  more  disastrous  effect.  Such  fears, 
one  hopes,  will  pass  away,  and  the  friend's  visible  image  will  be  recognised 
as  a  welcome  proof  of  the  link  that  binds  the  two  spirits  together. 

The  case  which  I  quote  in  Appendix  VI.  F  illustrates  both  the  essential 
harmlessness  —  nay,  naturalness  —  of  such  an  experiment,  and  the  cause- 
less fear  which  it  may  engender  even  in  rational  and  serious  minds. 

In  these  experimental  apparitions,  which  form,  as  it  were,  the  spolia 
opima  of  the  collector,  we  naturally  wish  to  know  all  that  we  can  about 
each  detail  in  the  experience.  Two  important  points  are  the  amount  oj 
effort  made  by  the  experimenter,  and  the  degree  of  his  consciousness  of 
success.  The  amount  of  effort  in  Mr.  S.  H.  B.'s  case  (for  instance)  seems 
to  have  been  great;  and  this  is  encouraging,  since  what  we  want  is  to  be 
assured  that  the  tension  of  will  has  really  some  power.  It  seems  to  act 
in  much  the  same  way  as  a  therapeutic  suggestion  from  the  conscious 
self;  one  can  never  make  sure  that  any  given  self-suggestion  will  "take"; 
but,  on  the  whole,  the  stronger  the  self-suggestions,  the  better  the  result. 
It  is  therefore  quite  in  accordance  with  analogy  that  a  suggestion  from 

1  For  cases  see  the  second  edition  of  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  i.  p.  lxxxi;  Pro- 
ceedings S.P.R.,  vol.  x.  pp.  270,  273,  and  418;  Forum,  March  1900;  Journal  S.P.R., 
vol.  iv.  p.  217;  vol.  vii.  p.  99  [668  A  to  G].  See  also  Phantasms  oj  the  Living,  vol.  i. 
p.  103  and  vol.  ii.  p.  675;  and  the  Journal  S.P.R.,  vol.  iii.  p.  307. 

2  Some  such  power  as  this  is  frequently  claimed  in  oriental  books  as  attainable  by 
mystic  practices.  We  have  not  thus  far  been  fortunate  enough  to  discover  any  per- 
formances corresponding  to  these  promises. 


SENSORY    AUTOMATISM  211 

without,  given  to  a  hypnotised  person,  should  be  the  most  promising  way 
of  inducing  these  self-projections.  It  should  be  strongly  impressed  on 
hypnotised  subjects  that  they  can  and  must  temporarily  "leave  the  body," 
as  they  call  it,  and  manifest  themselves  to  distant  persons  —  the  consent, 
of  course,  of  both  parties  to  the  experiment  having  been  previously  secured. 

Of  this  type  were  Dr.  Backman's  experiments  with  his  subject  "Alma," * 
and  although  that  series  of  efforts  was  prematurely  broken  off,  it  was  full 
of  promise.  There  were  some  slight  indications  that  Alma's  clairvoyant 
excursions  were  sometimes  perceptible  to  persons  in  the  scenes  psychically 
invaded;  and  there  was  considerable  and  growing  evidence  to  her  own 
retention  in  subsequent  memory  of  some  details  of  those  distant  scenes. 

By  all  analogy,  indeed,  that  subsequent  memory  should  be  an  eminently 
educable  thing.  The  carrying  over  of  recollections  from  one  stratum  of 
personality  into  another  —  as  hypnotic  experiment  shows  us  —  is  largely 
a  matter  of  patient  suggestion.  It  would  be  very  desirable  to  hypnotise 
the  person  who  had  succeeded  in  producing  an  experimental  apparition, 
of  Mr.  S.  H.  B.'s  type,  and  to  see  if  he  could  then  recall  the  psychical  ex- 
cursion. Hypnotic  states  should  be  far  more  carefully  utilised  in  connec- 
tion with  all  these  forms  of  self-projection. 

In  these  self -projections  we  have  before  us,  I  do  not  say  the  most  useful, 
but  the  most  extraordinary  achievement  of  the  human  will.  What  can 
lie  further  outside  any  known  capacity  than  the  po\fcer  to  cause  a  sem- 
blance of  oneself  to  appear  at  a  distance?  What  can\be  a  more  central 
action  —  more  manifestly  the  outcome  of  whatsoever  is  deepest  and  most 
unitary  in  man's  whole  being?  Here,  indeed,  begins  the  justification  of 
the  conception  expressed  at  the  beginning  of  this  chapter;  —  that  we 
should  now  see  the  subliminal  self  no  longer  as  a  mere  chain  of  eddies 
or  backwaters,  in  some  way  secluded  from  the  main  stream  of  man's  being, 
but  rather  as  itself  the  central  and  potent  current,  the  most  truly  identifiable 
with  the  man  himself.  Other  achievements  have  their  manifest  limit; 
where  is  the  limit  here?  The  spirit  has  shown  itself  in  part  dissociated 
from  the  organism;  to  what  point  may  its  dissociation  go?  It  has  shown 
some  independence,  some  intelligence,  some  permanence.  To  what 
degree  of  intelligence,  independence,  permanence,  may  it  conceivably 
attain?  Of  all  vital  phenomena,  I  say,  this  is  the  most  significant;  this 
self -projection  is  the  one  definite  act  which  it  seems  as  though  a  man  might 
perform  equally  well  before  and  after  bodily  death. 

1  See  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  vii.  pp.  199-220  [573  C]. 


CHAPTER  VII 
PHANTASMS   OF  THE  DEAD 

ovk4ti  irpbata 
dfidrav  &\a  Ktbvcov  virkp  'Hpa/cX^oy  irepav  €&jxap£s. 
.   .   .  0vp,i,  rlva  vpbs  dWoSairbv 
dicpav  ifibv  ir\bov  Trapafieipeat; 

—  Pindar 

The  course  of  our  argument  has  gradually  conducted  us  to  a  point 
of  capital  importance.  A  profound  and  central  question,  approached 
in  irregular  fashion  from  time  to  time  in  previous  chapters,  must  now 
be  directly  faced.  From  the  actions  and  perceptions  of  spirits  still  in 
the  flesh,  and  concerned  with  one  another,  we  must  pass  on  to  inquire 
into  the  actions  of  spirits  no  longer  in  the  flesh,  and  into  the  forms  of  per- 
ception with  which  men  still  in  the  flesh  respond  to  that  unfamiliar  and 
mysterious  agency. 

There  need,  I  hope,  be  no  real  break  here  in  my  previous  line  of  argu- 
ment. The  subliminal  self,  which  we  have  already  traced  through  various 
phases  of  growing  sensitivity,  growing  independence  of  organic  bonds, 
will  now  be  studied  as  sensitive  to  yet  remoter  influences ;  —  as  maintain- 
ing an  independent  existence  even  when  the  organism  is  destroyed.  Our 
subject  will  divide  itself  conveniently  under  three  main  heads.  First, 
it  will  be  well  to  discuss  briefly  the  nature  of  the  evidence  to  man's  survival 
of  death  which  may  theoretically  be  obtainable,  and  its  possible  connec- 
tions with  evidence  set  forth  in  previous  chapters.  Secondly,  —  and  this 
must  form  the  bulk  of  the  present  chapter,  —  we  need  a  classified  exposi- 
tion of  the  main  evidence  to  survival  thus  far  obtained;  —  so  far,  that  is 
to  say,  as  sensory  automatism  —  audition  or  apparition  —  is  concerned; 
for  motor  automatism  —  automatic  writing  and  trance-utterance  —  must 
be  left  for  later  discussion.  Thirdly,  there  will  be  need  of  some  consid- 
eration of  the  meaning  of  this  evidence  as  a  whole,  and  of  its  implications 
alike  for  the  scientific  and  for  the  ethical  future  of  mankind.  Much  more, 
indeed,  of  discussion  (as  well  as  of  evidence)  than  I  can  furnish  will  be 
needed  before  this  great  conception  can  be  realised  or  argued  from  with 


PHANTASMS    OF   THE   DEAD  213 

the  scientific  thoroughness  due  to  its  position  among  fundamental  cos- 
mical  laws.  Considering  how  familiar  the  notion  —  the  vague  shadowy 
notion  —  of  "  immortality "  has  always  been,  it  is  strange  indeed  that  so 
little  should  have  been  done  in  these  modern  days  to  grasp  or  to  criticise 
it;  —  so  little,  one  might  almost  say,  since  the  Phcedo  of  Plato. 

Beginning,  then,  with  the  inquiry  as  to  what  kind  of  evidence  ought 
to  be  demanded  for  human  survival,  we  are  met  first  by  the  bluff  state- 
ment which  is  still  often  uttered  even  by  intelligent  men,  that  no  evidence 
would  convince  them  of  such  a  fact;  " neither  would  they  be  persuaded 
though  one  rose  from  the  dead." 

Extravagant  as  such  a  profession  sounds,  it  has  a  meaning  which  we 
shall  do  well  to  note.  These  resolute  antagonists  mean  that  no  new 
evidence  can  carry  conviction  to  them  unless  it  be  continuous  with  old 
evidence;  and  that  they  cannot  conceive  that  evidence  to  a  world  of  spirit 
can  possibly  be  continuous  with  evidence  based  upon  our  experience  of 
a  world  of  matter.  I  agree  with  this  demand  for  continuity;  and  I  agree 
also  that  the  claims  usually  advanced  for  a  spiritual  world  have  not  only 
made  no  attempt  at  continuity  with  known  fact,  but  have  even  ostenta- 
tiously thrown  such  continuity  to  the  winds.  The  popular  mind  has 
expressly  desired  something  startling,  something  outside  Law  and  above 
Nature.  It  has  loved,  if  not  a  Credo  quia  absurdum,  at  least  a  Credo 
quia  non  probatum.  But  the  inevitable  retribution  is  a  deep  insecurity 
in  the  conviction  thus  attained.  Unsupported  by  the  general  fabric  of 
knowledge,  the  act  of  faith  seems  to  shrink  into  the  background  as  that 
great  fabric  stands  and  grows. 

I  can  hardly  too  often  repeat  that  my  object  in  these  pages  is  of  a  quite 
opposite  character.  Believing  that  all  cognisable  Mind  is  as  continuous 
as  all  cognisable  Matter,  my  ideal  would  be  to  attempt  for  the  realm  of 
mind  what  the  spectroscope  and  the  law  of  gravitation  have  effected  for 
the  realm  of  matter,  and  to  carry  that  known  cosmic  uniformity  of  sub- 
stance and  interaction  upwards  among  the  essences  and  operations  of 
an  unknown  spiritual  world.  And  in  order  to  explore  these  unreachable 
altitudes  I  would  not  ask  to  stand  with  the  theologian  on  the  summit  of 
a  "cloud-capt  tower,"  but  rather  on  plain  earth  at  the  measured  base 
of  a  trigonometrical  survey. 

If  we  would  measure  such  a  base,  the  jungle  must  be  cleared  to  begin 
with.  Let  us  move  for  a  while  among  first  definitions;  trying  to  make 
clear  to  ourselves  what  kind  of  thing  it  is  that  we  are  endeavouring  to  trace 
or  discover.  In  popular  parlance,  we  are  looking  out  for  ghosts.  What 
connotation,  then,  are  we  to  give  to  the  word  "ghost" —  a  word  which 


2i4  CHAPTER   VII 

has  embodied  so  many  unfounded  theories  and  causeless  fears  ?  It  would 
be  more  satisfactory,  in  the  present  state  of  our  knowledge,  simply  to 
collect  facts  without  offering  speculative  comment.  But  it  seems  safer 
to  begin  by  briefly  pointing  out  the  manifest  errors  of  the  traditional  view; 
since  that  tradition,  if  left  unnoticed,  would  remain  lodged  in  the  back- 
ground even  of  many  minds  which  have  never  really  accepted  it. 

Briefly,  then,  the  popular  view  regards  a  " ghost"  as  a  deceased  person 
permitted  by  Providence  to  hold  communication  with  survivors.  And  this 
short  definition  contains,  I  think,  at  least  three  unwarrantable  assumptions. 

In  the  first  place,  such  words  as  permission  and  Providence  are  simply 
neither  more  nor  less  applicable  to  this  phenomenon  than  to  any  other. 
We  conceive  that  all  phenomena  alike  take  place  in  accordance  with  the 
laws  of  the  universe,  and  consequently  by  permission  of  the  Supreme 
Power  in  the  universe.  Undoubtedly  the  phenomena  with  which  we  are 
dealing  are  in  this  sense  permitted  to  occur.  But  there  is  no  a  priori 
reason  whatever  for  assuming  that  they  are  permitted  in  any  especial 
sense  of  their  own,  or  that  they  form  exceptions  to  law,  instead  of  being 
exemplifications  of  law.  Nor  is  there  any  a  posteriori  reason  for  suppos- 
ing any  such  inference  to  be  deducible  from  a  study  of  the  phenomena 
themselves.  If  we  attempt  to  find  in  these  phenomena  any  poetical  justice 
or  manifest  adaptation  to  human  cravings,  we  shall  be  just  as  much  dis- 
appointed as  if  we  endeavoured  to  find  a  similar  satisfaction  in  the  ordinary 
course  of  terrene  history. 

In  the  second  place,  we  have  no  warrant  for  the  assumption  that  the 
phantom  seen,  even  though  it  be  somehow  caused  by  a  deceased  person, 
is  that  deceased  person,  in  any  ordinary  sense  of  the  word.  Instead  of 
appealing  to  the  crude  analogy  of  the  living  friend  who,  when  he  has  walked 
into  the  room,  is  in  the  room,  we  shall  find  for  the  ghost  a  much  closer 
parallel  in  those  hallucinatory  figures  or  phantasms  which  living  persons 
can  sometimes  project  at  a  distance. 

But  experience  shows  that  when  —  as  with  these  post-mortem  phan- 
toms —  the  deceased  person  has  gone  well  out  of  sight  or  reach  there  is 
a  tendency,  so  to  say,  to  anthropomorphose  the  apparition;  to  suppose 
that,  as  the  deceased  person  is  not  provably  anywhere  else,  he  is  probably 
here;  and  that  the  apparition  is  bound  to  behave  accordingly.  All  such 
assumptions  must  be  dismissed,  and  the  phantom  must  be  taken  on  its 
merits,  as  indicating  merely  a  certain  connection  with  the  deceased,  the 
precise  nature  of  that  connection  being  a  part  of  the  problem  to  be 
solved. 

And  in  the  third  place,  just  as  we  must  cease  to  say  that  the  phantom 


PHANTASMS    OF   THE   DEAD  215 

is  the  deceased,  so  also  must  we  cease  to  ascribe  to  the  phantom  the 
motives  by  which  we  imagine  that  the  deceased  might  be  swayed.  We 
must  therefore  exclude  from  our  definition  of  a  ghost  any  words  which 
assume  its  intention  to  communicate  with  the  living.  It  may  bear  such 
a  relation  to  the  deceased  that  it  can  reflect  or  represent  his  presumed 
wish  to  communicate,  or  it  may  not.  If,  for  instance,  its  relation  to  his 
post-mortem  life  be  like  the  relation  of  my  dreams  to  my  earthly  life,  it 
may  represent  little  that  is  truly  his,  save  such  vague  memories  and 
instincts  as  give  a  dim  individuality  to  each  man's  trivial  dreams. 

Let  us  attempt,  then,  a  truer  definition.  Instead  of  describing  a 
" ghost"  as  a  dead  person  permitted  to  communicate  with  the  living,  let 
us  define  it  as  a  manifestation  0}  persistent  personal  energy,  or  as  an 
indication  that  some  kind  of  force  is  being  exercised  after  death  which  is 
in  some  way  connected  with  a  person  previously  known  on  earth.  In  this 
definition  we  have  eliminated,  as  will  be  seen,  a  great  mass  of  popular 
assumptions.  Yet  we  must  introduce  a  further  proviso,  lest  our  definition 
still  seem  to  imply  an  assumption  which  we  have  no  right  to  make.  It  is 
theoretically  possible  that  this  force  or  influence,  which  after  a  man's  death 
creates  a  phantasmal  impression  of  him,  may  indicate  no  continuing 
action  on  his  part,  but  may  be  some  residue  of  the  force  or  energy  which 
he  generated  while  yet  alive.  There  may  be  veridical  after-images  — 
such  as  Gurney  hints  at  (Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  v.  p.  417)  when  in  his 
comments  on  the  recurring  figure  of  an  old  woman  —  seen  on  the  bed 
where  she  was  murdered  —  he  remarks  that  this  figure  suggests  not  so 
much  "any  continuing  local  interest  on  the  part  of  the  deceased  per- 
son, as  the  survival  of  a  mere  image,  impressed,  we  cannot  guess  how, 
on  we  cannot  guess  what,  by  that  person's  physical  organism,  and 
perceptible  at  times  to  those  endowed  with  some  cognate  form  of  sensi- 
tiveness." 

Strange  as  this  notion  may  seem,  it  is  strongly  suggested  by  many  of 
the  cases  of  haunting  which  do  not  fall  within  the  scope  of  the  present 
chapter.  We  shall  presently  find  that  there  is  strong  evidence  for  the 
recurrence  of  the  same  hallucinatory  figures  in  the  same  localities,  but 
weak  evidence  to  indicate  any  purpose  in  most  of  these  figures,  or  any 
connection  with  bygone  individuals,  or  with  such  tragedies  as  are  popu- 
larly supposed  to  start  a  ghost  on  its  career.  In  some  of  these  cases  of 
frequent,  meaningless  recurrence  of  a  figure  in  a  given  spot,  we  are  driven 
to  wonder  whether  it  can  be  some  deceased  person's  past  frequentation 
of  that  spot,  rather  than  any  fresh  action  of  his  after  death,  which  has 
generated  what  I  have  termed  the  veridical  after-image  —  veridical  in 


2i6  CHAPTER   VII 

the  sense  that  it  communicates  information,  previously  unknown  to  the 
percipient,  as  to  a  former  inhabitant  of  the  haunted  locality. 

Such  are  some  of  the  questions  which  our  evidence  suggests.  And  I 
may  point  out  that  the  very  fact  that  such  bizarre  problems  should  present 
themselves  at  every  turn  does  in  a  certain  sense  tend  to  show  that  these 
apparitions  are  not  purely  subjective  things,  —  do  not  originate  merely 
in  the  percipient's  imagination.  For  they  are  not  like  what  any  man 
would  have  imagined.  What  man's  mind  does  tend  to  fancy  on  such  topics 
may  be  seen  in  the  endless  crop  of  fictitious  ghost  stories,  which  furnish, 
indeed,  a  curious  proof  of  the  persistence  of  preconceived  notions.  For 
they  go  on  being  framed  according  to  canons  of  their  own,  and  deal  with 
a  set  of  imaginary  phenomena  quite  different  from  those  which  actually 
occur.  The  actual  phenomena,  I  may  add,  could  scarcely  be  made 
romantic.  One  true  "ghost  story"  is  apt  to  be  very  like  another,  and  most 
of  them  to  be  fragmentary  and  apparently  meaningless.  Their  meaning, 
that  is  to  say,  lies  in  their  conformity,  not  to  the  mythopoeic  instinct  of 
mankind,  which  fabricates  and  enjoys  the  fictitious  tales,  but  to  some 
unknown  law,  not  based  on  human  sentiment  or  convenience  at  all. 

And  thus,  absurdly  enough,  we  sometimes  hear  men  ridicule  the  phe- 
nomena which  actually  do  happen,  simply  because  those  phenomena 
do  not  suit  their  preconceived  notions  of  what  ghostly  phenomena  ought 
to  be;  —  not  perceiving  that  this  very  divergence,  this  very  unexpectedness, 
is  in  itself  no  slight  indication  of  an  origin  outside  the  minds  which 
obviously  were  so  far  from  anticipating  anything  of  the  kind. 

And  in  fact  the  very  qualities  which  are  most  apt  to  raise  derision  are 
such  as  the  evidence  set  forth  in  the  earlier  chapters  of  this  work  might 
reasonably  lead  us  to  expect.  For  I  hold  that  now  for  the  first  time  can  we 
form  a  conception  of  ghostly  communications  which  shall  in  any  way  con- 
sist or  cohere  with  more  established  conceptions ;  which  can  be  presented 
as  in  any  way  a  development  of  facts  which  are  already  experimentally 
known.  Two  preliminary  conceptions  were  needed  —  conceptions  in 
one  sense  ancient  enough;  but  yet  the  first  of  which  has  only  in  this 
generation  found  its  place  in  science,  while  the  second  is  as  yet  awaiting 
its  brevet  of  orthodoxy.  The  first  conception  is  that  with  which  hypno- 
tism and  various  automatisms  have  familiarised  us,  —  the  conception  of 
multiplex  personality,  of  the  potential  coexistence  of  many  states  and 
many  memories  in  the  same  individual.  The  second  is  the  conception 
of  telepathy;  of  the  action  of  mind  on  mind  apart  from  the  ordinary  organs 
of  sense;  and  especially  of  its  action  by  means  of  hallucinations;  by  the 
generation  of  veridical  phantasms  which  form,  as  it  were,  messages  from 


PHANTASMS    OF   THE   DEAD  217 

men  still  in  the  flesh.  And  I  believe  that  these  two  conceptions  are  in 
this  way  connected,  that  the  telepathic  message  generally  starts  from, 
and  generally  impinges  upon,  a  subconscious  or  submerged  stratum  in 
both  agent  and  percipient.1  Wherever  there  is  hallucination,  whether 
delusive  or  veridical,  I  hold  that  a  message  of  some  sort  is  forcing  its  way 
upwards  from  one  stratum  of  personality  to  another,  —  a  message  which 
may  be  merely  dreamlike  and  incoherent,  or  which  may  symbolise  a  fact 
otherwise  unreachable  by  the  percipient  personality.  And  the  mechanism 
seems  much  the  same  whether  the  message's  path  be  continued  within 
one  individual  or  pass  between  two;  whether  A's  own  submerged  self  be 
signalling  to  his  emergent  self,  or  B  be  telepathically  stimulating  the  hidden 
fountains  of  perception  in  A.  If  anything  like  this  be  true,  it  seems  plainly 
needful  that  all  that  we  know  of  abnormal  or  supernormal  communica- 
tions between  minds,  or  states  of  the  same  mind,  still  embodied  in  flesh, 
should  be  searched  for  analogies  which  may  throw  light  on  this  strangest 
mode  of  intercourse  between  embodied  and  disembodied  minds. 

A  communication  (if  such  a  thing  exists)  from  a  departed  person  to  a 
person  still  on  earth  is,  at  any  rate,  a  communication  from  a  mind  in  one 
state  of  existence  to  a  mind  in  a  very  different  state  of  existence.  And  it 
is,  moreover,  a  communication  from  one  mind  to  another  which  passes 
through  some  channel  other  than  the  ordinary  channels  of  sense,  since 
on  one  side  of  the  gulf  no  material  sense-organs  exist.  It  will  apparently 
be  an  extreme  instance  of  both  these  classes  —  of  communications  between 
state  and  state,2  and  of  telepathic  communications ;  and  we  ought,  there- 
fore, to  approach  it  by  considering  the  less  advanced  cases  of  both  these 
types. 

On  what  occasions  do  we  commonly  find  a  mind  conversing  with 
another  mind  not  on  the  same  plane  with  itself  ?  —  with  a  mind  inhabiting 
in  some  sense  a  different  world,  and  viewing  the  environment  with  a  differ- 
ence of  outlook  greater  than  the  mere  difference  of  character  of  the  two 
personages  will  account  for? 

The  first  instance  of  this  sort  which  will  occur  to  us  lies  in  spontaneous 
somnambulism,  or  colloquy  between  a  person  asleep  and  a  person  awake. 

1  See  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  i.  p.  231. 

2  Some  word  is  much  needed  to  express  communications  between  one  state  and 
another,  e.g.  between  the  somnambulic  and  the  waking  state,  or,  in  hypnotism,  the 
cataleptic  and  the  somnambulic,  etc.  The  word  "methectic"  (fxedeKriicds)  seems 
to  me  the  most  suitable,  especially  since  n£6efc  happens  to  be  the  word  used  by  Plato 
(Parm.  132  D.)  for  participation  between  ideas  and  concrete  objects.  Or  the  word 
"inter-state"  might  be  pressed  into  this  new  duty. 


2i8  CHAPTER   VII 

And  observe  here  how  slight  an  accident  allows  us  to  enter  into  converse 
with  a  state  which  at  first  sight  seems  a  type  of  incommunicable  isolation. 
" Awake,  we  share  our  world,"  runs  the  old  saying,  "but  each  dreamer 
inhabits  a  world  of  his  own."  Yet  the  dreamer,  apparently  so  self-enclosed, 
may  be  gently  led,  or  will  spontaneously  enter,  into  converse  with  waking 
men. 

The  somnambulist,  or  rather  the  somniloquist  —  for  it  is  the  talking 
rather  than  the  walking  which  is  the  gist  of  the  matter  —  is  thus  our  first 
natural  type  of  the  revenant. 

And  observing  the  habits  of  somnambulists,  we  note  that  the  degree 
in  which  they  can  communicate  with  other  minds  varies  greatly  in  different 
cases.  One  sleep-waker  will  go  about  his  customary  avocations  without 
recognising  the  presence  of  any  other  person  whatever;  another  will  recog- 
nise certain  persons  only,  or  will  answer  when  addressed,  but  only  on 
certain  subjects,  his  mind  coming  into  contact  with  other  minds  only  on 
a  very  few  points.  Rarely  or  never  will  a  somnambulist  spontaneously 
notice  what  other  persons  are  doing,  and  adapt  his  own  actions  thereto. 

Next  let  us  turn  from  natural  to  induced  sleep-waking,  from  idiopathic 
somnambulism  to  the  hypnotic  trance.  Here,  too,  throughout  the  different 
stages  of  the  trance,  we  find  a  varying  and  partial  (or  elective)  power  of 
communication.  Sometimes  the  entranced  subject  makes  no  sign  what- 
ever; sometimes  he  seems  able  to  hear  and  answer  one  person,  or  certain 
persons,  and  not  others;  sometimes  he  will  talk  freely  to  all;  but,  however 
freely  he  may  talk,  he  is  not  exactly  his  waking  self,  and  as  a  rule  he  has 
no  recollection,  or  a  very  imperfect  recollection,  in  waking  life  of  what 
he  has  said  or  done  in  his  trance. 

Judging,  then,  from  such  analogy  as  communications  from  one  living 
state  to  another  can  suggest  to  us,  we  shall  expect  that  the  communication 
of  a  disembodied  or  discarnate  person  with  an  incarnate,  if  such  exist,  will 
be  subject  to  narrow  limitations,  and  very  possibly  will  not  form  a  part 
of  the  main  current  of  the  supposed  discarnate  consciousness. 

These  preliminary  considerations  are  applicable  to  any  kind  of  alleged 
communication  from  the  departed  —  whether  well  or  ill  evidenced;  whether 
conveyed  in  sensory  or  in  motor  form. 

Let  us  next  consider  what  types  of  communication  from  the  dead  our 
existing  evidence  of  communications  among  the  living  suggests  to  us 
as  analogically  possible.  It  appears  to  me  that  there  is  an  important 
parallelism  running  through  each  class  of  our  experiments  in  automatism 
and  each  class  of  our  spontaneous  phenomena.  Roughly  speaking,  we  may 
say  that  our  experiment  and  observation  up  to  this  point  have  comprised 


PHANTASMS    OF   THE   DEAD  219 

five  different  stages  of  phenomena,  viz.,  (I.)  hypnotic  suggestion;  (II.)  tele- 
pathic experiments;  (III.)  spontaneous  telepathy  during  life;  (IV.)  phan- 
tasms at  death;  (V.)  phantasms  after  death.  And  we  find,  I  think,  that 
the  same  types  of  communication  meet  us  at  each  stage;  so  that  this  re- 
current similarity  of  types  raises  a  presumption  that  the  underlying 
mechanism  of  manifestation  at  each  stage  may  be  in  some  way  similar. 

Again  using  a  mere  rough  form  of  division,  we  shall  find  three  main 
forms  of  manifestation  at  each  stage:  (1)  hallucinations  of  the  senses; 
(2)  emotional  and  motor  impulses;  (3)  definite  intellectual  messages. 

(I.)  And  first  let  us  start  from  a  class  of  experiments  into  which 
telepathy  does  not  enter,  but  which  exhibit  in  its  simplest  form  the 
mechanism  of  the  automatic  transfer  of  messages  from  one  stratum  to 
another  of  the  same  personality.  I  speak,  of  course,  of  post-hypnotic 
suggestions.  Here  the  agent  is  a  living  man,  operating  in  an  ordinary 
way,  by  direct  speech.  The  unusual  feature  lies  in  the  condition  of  the 
percipient,  who  is  hypnotised  at  the  time,  and  is  thus  undergoing  a  kind 
of  dislocation  of  personality,  or  temporary  upheaval  of  a  habitually 
subjacent  stratum  of  the  self.  This  hypnotic  personality,  being  for  the 
time  at  the  surface,  receives  the  agent's  verbal  suggestion,  of  which  the 
percipient's  waking  self  is  unaware.  Then  afterwards,  when  the  waking 
self  has  resumed  its  usual  upper  position,  the  hypnotic  self  carries  out 
at  the  stated  time  the  given  suggestion, — an  act  whose  origin  the  upper 
stratum  of  consciousness  does  not  know,  but  which  is  in  effect  a  message 
communicated  to  the  upper  stratum  from  the  now  submerged  or  sub- 
conscious  stratum   on   which   the   suggestion  was  originally  impressed. 

And  this  message  may  take  any  one  of  the  three  leading  forms  men- 
tioned above;  —  say  a  hallucinatory  image  of  the  hypnotiser  or  of  some 
other  person;  or  an  impulse  to  perform  some  action;  or  a  definite  word 
or  sentence  to  be  written  automatically  by  the  waking  self,  which  thus 
learns  what  order  has  been  laid  upon  the  hypnotic  self  while  the  waking 
consciousness  was  in  abeyance. 

(II.)  Now  turn  to  our  experiments  in  thought-transference.  Here 
again  the  agent  is  a  living  man;  but  he  is  no  longer  operating  by  ordinary 
means,  —  by  spoken  words  or  visible  gestures.  He  is  operating  on  the 
percipient's  subconscious  self  by  means  of  a  telepathic  impulse,  which 
he  desires,  indeed,  to  project  from  himself,  and  which  the  percipient  may 
desire  to  receive,  but  of  whose  modus  operandi  the  ordinary  waking  selves 
of  agent  and  percipient  alike  are  entirely  unaware. 

Here  again  we  may  divide  the  messages  sent  into  the  same  three  main 
classes.     First  come  the  hallucinatory  figures  —  always  or  almost  always 


220  CHAPTER   VII 

of  himself  —  which  the  agent  causes  the  percipient  to  see.  Secondly 
come  impulses  to  act,  telepathically  impressed,  as  when  the  hypnotiser 
desires  his  subject  to  come  to  him  at  an  hour  not  previously  notified.  And 
thirdly,  we  have  a  parallel  to  the  post-hypnotic  writing  of  definite  words 
or  figures  in  our  own  experiments  on  the  direct  telepathic  transmission 
of  words,  figures,  cards,  etc.,  from  the  agent,  using  no  normal  means  of 
communication,  to  the  percipient,  either  in  the  hypnotised  or  in  the  waking 
state. 

(III.)  We  come  next  to  the  spontaneous  phantasms  occurring  during 
life.  Here  we  find  the  same  three  broad  classes  of  messages,  with  this 
difference,  that  the  actual  apparitions,  which  in  our  telepathic  experimen- 
tation are  thus  far  unfortunately  rare,  become  now  the  most  important 
class.  I  need  not  recall  the  instances  given  in  Chapters  IV.  and  VI.,  etc., 
where  an  agent  undergoing  some  sudden  crisis  seems  in  some  way  to  gen- 
erate an  apparition  of  himself  seen  by  a  distant  percipient.  Important 
also  in  this  connection  are  those  apparitions  of  the  double,  where  some  one 
agent  is  seen  repeatedly  in  phantasmal  form  by  different  percipients  at 
times  when  that  agent  is  undergoing  no  special  crisis. 

Again,  among  our  telepathic  impressions  generated  (spontaneously, 
not  experimentally)  by  living  agents,  we  have  cases,  which  I  need  not 
here  recapitulate,  of  pervading  sensations  of  distress ;  or  impulses  to  return 
home,  which  are  parallel  to  the  hypnotised  subject's  impulse  to  approach 
his  distant  hypnotiser,  at  a  moment  when  that  hypnotiser  is  willing  him 
to  do  so. 

And  thirdly,  among  these  telepathic  communications  from  the  living 
to  the  living,  we  have  definite  sentences  automatically  written,  communi- 
cating facts  which  the  distant  person  knows,  but  is  not  consciously  en- 
deavouring to  transmit. 

(IV.)  Passing  on  to  phantasms  which  cluster  about  the  moment  of 
death,  we  find  our  three  main  classes  of  cases  still  meeting  us.  Our  readers 
are  familiar  with  the  visual  cases,  where  there  is  an  actual  apparition  of 
the  dying  man,  seen  by  one  or  more  persons;  and  also  with  the  emotional 
and  motor  cases,  where  the  impression,  although  powerful,  is  not  definitely 
sensory  in  character.  And  various  cases  also  have  been  published  where 
the  message  has  consisted  of  definite  words,  not  always  externalised  as 
an  auditory  hallucination,  but  sometimes  automatically  uttered  or  auto- 
matically written  by  the  percipient  himself,  as  in  the  case  communicated 
by  Dr.  Lie"beault  (see  Appendix  VIII.  C),  where  a  girl  writes  the  mes- 
sage announcing  her  friend's  death  at  the  time  when  that  friend  is,  in 
fact,  dying  in  a  distant  city. 


PHANTASMS   OF   THE   DEAD  221 

(V.)  And  now  I  maintain  that  in  these  post-mortem  cases  also  we 
find  the  same  general  classes  persisting,  and  in  somewhat  the  same  pro- 
portion. Most  conspicuous  are  the  actual  apparitions,  with  which,  indeed, 
the  following  pages  will  mainly  deal.  It  is  very  rare  to  find  an  appari- 
tion which  seems  to  impart  any  verbal  message;  but  a  case  of  this  kind 
has  been  given  in  Appendix  IV.  F.  As  a  rule,  however,  the  apparition 
is  of  the  apparently  automatic,  purposeless  character,  already  so  fully 
described.  We  have  also  the  emotional  and  motor  class  of  post-mortem 
cases;1  and  these  may,  perhaps,  be  more  numerous  in  proportion  than 
our  collection  would  indicate;  for  it  is  obvious  that  impressions  which 
are  so  much  less  definite  than  a  visual  hallucination  (although  they  may 
be  even  more  impressive  to  the  percipient  himself)  can  rarely  be  used  as 
evidence  of  communication  with  the  departed. 

But  now  I  wish  to  point  out  that,  besides  these  two  classes  of  post- 
mortem manifestations,  we  have  our  third  class  also  still  persisting;  we 
have  definite  verbal  messages  which  at  least  purport,  and  sometimes,  I 
think,  with  strong  probability,  to  come  from  the  departed. 

I  have,  indeed,  for  the  reader's  convenience,  postponed  these  motor 
cases  to  a  subsequent  chapter,  so  that  the  evidence  here  and  now  pre- 
sented for  survival  will  be  very  incomplete.  Yet,  at  any  rate,  we  are 
gradually  getting  before  us  a  fairly  definite  task.  We  have  in  this  chap- 
ter to  record  and  analyse  such  sensory  experiences  of  living  men  as  seem 
referable  to  the  action  of  some  human  individuality  persisting  after  death. 
We  have  also  obtained  some  preliminary  notion  as  to  the  kind  of  phenomena 
for  which  we  can  hope,  especially  as  to  what  their  probable  limitations 
must  be,  considering  how  great  a  gulf  between  psychical  states  any  com- 
munication must  overpass. 

Let  us  now  press  the  actual  evidential  question  somewhat  closer.  Let 
us  consider,  for  it  is  by  no  means  evident  at  first  sight,  what  conditions 
a  visual  or  auditory  phantasm  is  bound  to  fulfil  before  it  can  be  regarded 
as  indicating  primd  facie  the  influence  of  a  discarnate  mind.  The  dis- 
cussion may  be  best  introduced  by  quoting  the  words  in  which  Edmund 
Gurney  opened  it  in  1888.2  The  main  evidential  lines  as  there  laid  down 
retain  their  validity,  although  the  years  which  have  since  passed  have 
greatly  augmented  the  testimony,  and  in  so  doing  have  illustrated  yet  other 
tests  of  true  post-mortem  communication,  —  to  which  we  shall  presently 
come. 

1  See  for  example  Mr.  Cameron  Grant's  case.  (Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  viii. 
p.  202.) 

2  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  v.  pp.  404-408. 


222  CHAPTER   VII 

"It  is  evident  that  in  alleged  cases  of  apparitions  of  the  dead,  the 
point  which  we  have  held  to  distinguish  certain  apparitions  of  living 
persons  from  purely  subjective  hallucinations  is  necessarily  lacking. 
That  point  is  coincidence  between  the  apparition  and  some  critical 
or  exceptional  condition  of  the  person  who  seems  to  appear;  but  with 
regard  to  the  dead,  we  have  no  independent  knowledge  of  their  con- 
dition, and  therefore  never  have  the  opportunity  of  observing  any  such 
coincidences. 

"  There  remain  three,  and  I  think  only  three,  conditions  which  might 
establish  a  presumption  that  an  apparition  or  other  immediate  manifesta- 
tion of  a  dead  person  is  something  more  than  a  mere  subjective  hallucina- 
tion of  the  percipient's  senses.  Either  (i)  more  persons  than  one  might 
be  independently  affected  by  the  phenomenon;  or  (2)  the  phantasm  might 
convey  information,  afterwards  discovered  to  be  true,  of  something  which 
the  percipient  had  never  known;  or  (3)  the  appearance  might  be  that  of 
a  person  whom  the  percipient  himself  had  never  seen,  and  of  whose  aspect 
he  was  ignorant,  and  yet  his  description  of  it  might  be  sufficiently  definite 
for  identification.  But  though  one  or  more  of  these  conditions  would 
have  to  be  fully  satisfied  before  we  could  be  convinced  that  any  particular 
apparition  of  the  dead  had  some  cause  external  to  the  percipient's  own 
mind,  there  is  one  more  general  characteristic  of  the  class  which  is  suffi- 
ciently suggestive  of  such  a  cause  to  be  worth  considering.  I  mean  the 
disproportionate  number  of  cases  which  occur  shortly  after  the  death  of 
the  person  represented.  Such  a  time-relation,  if  frequently  enough 
encountered,  might  enable  us  to  argue  for  the  objective  origin  of  the 
phenomenon  in  a  manner  analogous  to  that  which  leads  us  to  conclude 
that  many  phantasms  of  the  living  have  an  objective  (a  telepathic) 
origin.  For,  according  to  the  doctrines  of  probabilities,  a  hallucination 
representing  a  known  person  would  not  by  chance  present  a  definite 
time-relation  to  a  special  cognate  event  —  viz.,  the  death  of  that  person 
—  in  more  than  a  certain  percentage  of  the  whole  number  of  similar 
hallucinations  that  occur;  and  if  that  percentage  is  decidedly  exceeded, 
there  is  reason  to  surmise  that  some  other  cause  than  chance  —  in 
other  words,  some  objective  origin  for  the  phantasm  —  is  present." 

But  on  the  other  hand,  a  phantasm  representing  a  person  whose  death 
is  recent  is  specially  likely  to  arouse  interest  and,  in  cases  where  the  death 
is  previously  known  to  the  percipient,  his  emotional  state  may  be  con- 
sidered a  sufficient  cause  of  the  hallucination. 

"If,  then,"  Gurney  continues,  "we  are  to  draw  any  probable  con- 
clusion as  to  the  objective  nature  of  post-mortem  appearances  and  com- 
munications (or  of  some  of  them)  from  the  fact  of  their  special  frequency 
soon  after  death,  we  must  confine  ourselves  to  cases  where  the  fact  of 
death  has  been  unknown  to  the  percipient  at  the  time  of  his  experience. 
Now,  in  these  days  of  letters  and  telegrams,  people  for  the  most  part  hear 
of  the  deaths  of  friends  and  relatives  within  a  very  few  days,  sometimes 
within  a  very  few  hours,  after  the  death  occurs;  so  that  appearances  of 


PHANTASMS    OF   THE    DEAD  223 

the  sort  required  would,  as  a  rule,  have  to  follow  very  closely  indeed 
on  the  death.  Have  we  evidence  of  any  considerable  number  of  such 
cases  ? 

"  Readers  of  Phantasms  of  the  Living  will  know  that  we  have.  In 
a  number  of  cases  which  were  treated  in  that  book  as  examples  of  tele- 
pathic transference  from  a  dying  person,  the  person  was  actually  dead 
at  the  time  that  the  percipient's  experience  occurred;  and  the  inclusion 
of  such  cases  under  the  title  of  Phantasms  of  the  Living  naturally  occa- 
sioned a  certain  amount  of  adverse  criticism.  Their  inclusion,  it  will 
be  remembered,  required  an  assumption  which  cannot  by  any  means  be 
regarded  as  certain.  We  had  to  suppose  that  the  telepathic  transfer 
took  place  just  before,  or  exactly  at,  the  moment  of  death;  but  that  the 
impression  remained  latent  in  the  percipient's  mind,  and  only  after  an 
interval  emerged  into  his  consciousness,  whether  as  waking  vision  or  as 
dream  or  in  some  other  form.  Now,  as  a  provisional  hypothesis,  I  think 
that  this  assumption  was  justified.  For  in  the  first  place,  the  moment 
of  death  is,  in  time,  the  central  point  of  a  cluster  of  abnormal  experiences 
occurring  to  percipients  at  a  distance,  of  which  some  precede,  while  others 
follow,  the  death;  it  is  natural,  therefore,  to  surmise  that  the  same  explana- 
tion will  cover  the  whole  group,  and  that  the  motive  force  in  each  of  its 
divisions  lies  in  a  state  of  the  'agent'  prior  to  bodily  death.  In  the 
second  place,  some  of  the  facts  of  experimental  thought-transference 
countenance  the  view  that  'transferred  impressions'  may  be  latent  for 
a  time  before  the  recipient  becomes  aware  of  them;  and  recent  discoveries 
with  respect  to  the  whole  subject  of  automatism  and  'secondary  intel- 
ligence' make  it  seem  far  less  improbable  than  it  would  otherwise  have 
seemed  that  telepathy  may  take  effect  first  on  the  'unconscious'  part 
of  the  mind.1  And  in  the  third  place,  the  period  of  supposed  latency 
has  in  a  good  many  instances  been  a  period  when  the  person  affected 
was  in  activity,  and  when  his  mind  and  senses  were  being  solicited  by 
other  things;  and  in  such  cases  it  is  specially  easy  to  suppose  that  the 
telepathic  impression  did  not  get  the  right  conditions  for  rising  into  con- 
sciousness until  a  season  of  silence  and  recueillement  arrived.2  But  though 
the  theory  of  latency  has  thus  a  good  deal  to  be  said  for  it,  my  colleagues 
and  I  are  most  anxious  not  to  be  supposed  to  be  putting  forward  as  a 
dogma  what  must  be  regarded  at  present  merely  as  a  working  hypothesis. 
Psychical  research  is  of  all  subjects  the  one  where  it  is  most  important 
to  avoid  this  error,  and  to  keep  the  mind  open  for  new  interpretations  of 
the  facts.  And  in  the  present  instance  there  are  certain  definite  objections 
which  may  fairly  be  made  to  the  hypothesis  that  a  telepathic  impression 
derived  from  a  dying  person  may  emerge  after  hours  of  latency.  The 
experimental  cases  to  which  I  have  referred  as  analogous  are  few  and 
uncertain,  and,  moreover,  in  them  the  period  of  latency  has  been  measured 

1  In  some  experimental  cases,  it  will  be  remembered,  the  impression  takes  effect 
through  the  motor,  not  the  sensory,  system  of  the  recipient,  as  by  automatic  writing, 
so  that  he  is  never  directly  aware  of  it  at  all. 

2  See,  for  instance,  case  500,  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  ii.  p.  462. 


224  CHAPTER   VII 

by  seconds  or  minutes,  not  by  hours.  And  though,  as  I  have  said,  some 
of  the  instances  of  apparent  delay  among  the  death-cases  might  be  ac- 
counted for  by  the  fact  that  the  percipient's  mind  or  senses  needed  to 
be  withdrawn  from  other  occupations  before  the  manifestation  could 
take  place,  there  are  other  instances  where  this  is  not  so,  and  where  no 
ground  at  all  appears  for  connecting  the  delay  with  the  percipient's 
condition.  On  the  whole,  then,  the  alternative  hypothesis  —  that  the 
condition  of  the  phenomenon  on  the  'agent's'  side  (be  it  psychical  or 
be  it  physical)  is  one  which  only  comes  into  existence  at  a  distinct 
interval  after  death,  and  that  the  percipient  really  is  impressed  at  the 
moment,  and  not  before  the  moment,  when  he  is  conscious  of  the  im- 
pression —  is  one  which  must  be  steadily  kept  in  view. 

"  So  far  I  have  been  speaking  of  cases  where  the  interval  between  the 
death  and  the  manifestation  was  so  short  as  to  make  the  theory  of  latency 
possible.  The  rule  adopted  in  Phantasms  of  the  Living  was  that  this 
interval  must  not  exceed  twelve  hours.  But  we  have  records  of  a  few 
cases  where  this  interval  has  been  greatly  exceeded,  and  yet  where  the  fact 
of  the  death  was  still  unknown  to  the  percipient  at  the  time  of  his 
experience.  The  theory  of  latency  cannot  reasonably  be  applied  to  cases 
where  weeks  or  months  divide  the  vision  (or  whatever  it  may  be)  from 
the  moment  of  death,  which  is  the  latest  at  which  an  ordinary1  telepath- 
ically  transferred  idea  could  have  obtained  access  to  the  percipient.  And 
the  existence  of  such  cases  —  so  far  as  it  tends  to  establish  the  reality 
of  objectively-caused  apparitions  of  the  dead  —  diminishes  the  objection 
to  conceiving  that  the  appearances,  etc.,  which  have  very  shortly  followed 
death  have  had  a  different  causation  from  those  which  have  coincided 
with  or  very  shortly  preceded  it.  For  we  shall  not  be  inventing  a  wholly 
new  class  for  the  former  cases,  but  only  provisionally  shifting  them  from 
one  class  to  another  —  to  a  much  smaller  and  much  less  well-evidenced 
class,  it  is  true,  but  one  nevertheless  for  which  we  have  evidence  enough 
to  justify  us  in  expecting  more." 

This,  as  I  conceive,  is  a  sound  method  of  proceeding  from  ground 
made  secure  in  Phantasms  of  the  Living  —  and  traversed  in  my  own  just 
previous  chapter  —  to  cases  closely  analogous,  save  for  that  little  difference 
in  time-relations,  that  occurrence  in  the  hours  which  follow,  instead  of  the 
hours  which  precede,  bodily  dissolution,  which  counts  for  so  much  in 
our  insight  into  cosmic  law.2 

1  I  mean  by  "ordinary"  the  classes  which  are  recognised  and  treated  of  in  Phan- 
tasms of  the  Living.  But  if  the  departed  survive,  the  possibility  of  thought-trans- 
ference between  them  and  those  who  remain  is  of  course  a  perfectly  tenable  hypothesis. 
"As  our  telepathic  theory  is  a  psychical  one,  and  makes  no  physical  assumptions, 
it  would  be  perfectly  applicable  (though  the  name  perhaps  would  be  inappropriate) 
to  the  conditions  of  disembodied  existence."  —  Phantasms,  vol.  i.  p.  512. 

2  Certain  statistics  as  to  these  time-relations  are  given  by  Edmund  Gurney  as 
follows  {Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  v.  p.  408):  "The  statistics  drawn  from  the  first- 
hand records  in  Phantasms  of  the  Living  as  to  the  time-relation  of  appearances,  etc., 


PHANTASMS    OF   THE   DEAD  225 

The  hypothesis  of  latency  which  thus  meets  us  in  limine  in  this  inquiry 
will  soon  be  found  inadequate  to  cover  the  facts.  Yet  it  will  be  well  to 
dwell  somewhat  more  fully  upon  its  possible  range. 

If  we  examine  the  proportionate  number  of  apparitions  observed  at 
various  periods  before  and  after  death,  we  find  that  they  increase  very 
rapidly  for  the  few  hours  which  precede  death,  and  decrease  gradually 
during  the  hours  and  days  which  follow,  until  after  about  a  year's  time 
they  become  merely  sporadic. 

Yet  one  more  point  must  be  touched  on,  to  avoid  misconception  of 
the  phrase  cited  above,  that  "the  moment  of  death  is  the  centre  of  a  cluster 
of  abnormal  experiences,  of  which  some  precede,  while  others  follow,  the 
death."  Gurney,  of  course,  did  not  mean  to  assume  that  the  act  of  death 
itself  was  the  cause  of  all  these  experiences.  Those  which  occur  before 
death  may  be  caused  or  conditioned,  not  by  the  death  itself,  but  by  the 
abnormal  state,  as  of  coma,  delirium,  etc.,  which  preceded  the  death. 
This  we  say  because  we  have  many  instances  where  veridical  phantasms 
have  coincided  with  moments  of  crisis  —  carriage-accidents  and  the  like 
—  occurring  to  distant  agents,  but  not  followed  by  death.  Accordingly 
we  find  that  in  almost  all  cases  where  a  phantasm,  apparently  veridical, 
has  preceded  the  agent's  death,  that  death  was  the  result  of  disease  and 
not  of  accident.  To  this  rule  there  are  very  few  exceptions.  There  is 
a  case  given  in  Phantasms  oj  the  Living  (vol.  ii.  p.  52),  where  the  phan- 
tasm seems  on  the  evidence  to  have  preceded  by  about  half  an  hour  (longi- 
tude allowed  for)  a  sudden  death  by  drowning.  In  this  case  the  percipient 
was  in  a  Norfolk  farmhouse,  the  drowning  man  —  or  agent  —  was  in 
a  storm  off  the  island  of  Tristan  d'Acunha;  and  we  have  suggested  that 
an  error  of  clocks  or  of  observation  may  account  for  the  discrepancy.  In 
another  case  the  death  was  in  a  sense  a  violent  one,  for  it  was  a  suicide; 
but  the  morbidly  excited  state  of  the  girl  a  few  hours  before  death  —  when 

occurring  in  close  proximity  to  deaths,  are  as  follows:  —  In  134  cases  the  coincidence 
is  represented  as  having  been  exact,  or,  when  times  are  specifically  stated,  close  to  within 
an  hour.  In  104  cases  it  is  not  known  whether  the  percipient's  experience  preceded 
or  followed  the  death;  such  cases  cannot  be  taken  account  of  for  our  present  purpose. 
There  remain  78  cases  where  it  appears  that  there  was  an  interval  of  more  than  an 
hour;  and  of  these  38  preceded  and  40  followed  the  death.  Of  the  38  cases  where 
the  percipient's  experience  preceded  the  death  (all  of  which,  of  course,  took  place 
during  a  time  when  the  "agent"  was  seriously  ill),  19  fell  within  twenty-four  hours 
of  the  death.  Of  the  40  cases  where  the  percipient's  experience  followed  the  death, 
all  followed  within  an  interval  of  twenty-four  hours,  and  in  only  one  (included  by 
mistake)  was  the  twelve  hours'  interval  certainly  exceeded,  though  there  are  one  or 
two  others  where  it  is  possible  that  it  was  slightly  exceeded." 


226  CHAPTER   VII 

her  phantasm  was  seen  —  was  in  itself  a  state  of  crisis.  But  there  are 
also  a  few  recorded  cases  (none  of  which  were  cited  in  Phantasms  of  the 
Living)  where  a  phantasm  or  double  of  some  person  has  been  observed 
some  days  previous  to  that  person's  accidental  death.  The  evidence 
obtained  in  the  Census  of  Hallucinations,  however,  tended  to  show  that 
Cases  of  this  sort  are  too  few  to  suggest  even  primd  facie  a  causal  connec- 
tion between  the  death  and  the  apparition  (see  Proceedings  S.P.R.  vol.  x. 

P-  33*)- 

I  now  proceed  briefly  to  review  some  of  the  cases  where  the  inter- 
val between  death  and  phantasm  has  been  measurable  by  minutes  or 
hours. 

It  is  not  easy  to  get  definite  cases  where  the  interval  has  been  measur- 
able by  minutes;  for  if  the  percipient  is  at  a  distance  from  the  agent  we 
can  seldom  be  sure  that  the  clocks  at  both  places  have  been  correct,  and 
correctly  observed;  while  if  he  is  present  with  the  agent  we  can  rarely  be 
sure  that  the  phantasm  observed  is  more  than  a  mere  subjective  hallucina- 
tion. Thus  we  have  several  accounts  of  a  rushing  sound  heard  by  the 
watcher  of  a  dying  man  just  after  his  apparent  death,  or  of  some  kind 
of  luminosity  observed  near  his  person;  but  this  is  just  the  moment  when 
we  may  suppose  some  subjective  hallucination  likely  to  occur,  and  if  one 
person's  senses  alone  are  affected  we  cannot  allow  much  evidential 
weight  to  the  occurrence.1 

There  are  some  circumstances,  however,  in  which,  in  spite  of  the  fact 
that  the  death  is  already  known,  a  hallucination  occurring  shortly  after- 
wards may  have  some  slight  evidential  value.  Thus  we  have  a  case  where 
a  lady  who  knew  that  her  sister  had  died  a  few  hours  previously,  but  who 
was  not  herself  in  any  morbidly  excited  condition,  seemed  to  see  some 
one  enter  her  own  dining-room,  opening  and  shutting  the  door.  The 
percipient  (who  had  never  had  any  other  hallucination)  was  much  aston- 
ished when  she  found  no  one  in  the  dining-room;  but  it  did  not  till  some 
time  afterwards  occur  to  her  that  the  incident  could  be  in  any  way 

1  The  Proceedings  of  the  American  Society  for  Psychical  Research  (vol.  i.  p.  405) 
contain  a  case  where  a  physician  and  his  wife,  sleeping  in  separate  but  adjoining  rooms, 
are  both  of  them  awakened  by  a  bright  light.  The  physician  sees  a  figure  standing 
in  the  light;  his  wife,  who  gets  up  to  see  what  the  light  in  her  husband's  room  may 
be,  does  not  reach  that  room  till  the  figure  has  disappeared.  The  figure  is  not  clearly 
identified,  but  has  some  resemblance  to  a  patient  of  the  physician's,  who  has  died 
suddenly  (from  hemorrhage)  about  three  hours  before,  calling  for  her  doctor,  who 
did  not  anticipate  this  sudden  end.  Even  this  resemblance  did  not  strike  the  per- 
cipient until  after  he  knew  of  the  death,  and  the  defect  in  recognition  weakens  the 
case  evidentially. 


PHANTASMS    OF   THE    DEAD  227 

connected  with  her  recent  loss.  This  reminds  us  of  a  case  (ii.  p.  694  *) 
where  the  Rev.  R.  M.  Hill  sees  a  tall  figure  rush  into  the  room,  which 
alarms  and  surprises  him,  then  vanishes  before  he  has  time  to  recognise 
it.  An  uncle,  a  tall  man,  dies  about  that  moment,  and  it  is  remarked 
that  although  Mr.  Hill  knew  his  uncle  to  be  ill,  the  anxiety  which  he 
may  have  felt  would  hardly  have  given  rise  to  an  unrecognised  and 
formidable  apparition. 

There  are  cases  also  where  a  percipient  who  has  had  an  apparition  of 
a  friend  shortly  after  that  friend's  known  death  has  had  veridical  hallucina- 
tions at  other  times,  and  has  never  had  any  hallucination  of  purely  sub- 
jective origin.  Such  a  percipient  may  naturally  suppose  that  his  apparition 
of  the  departed  friend  possessed  the  same  veridical  character  which  was 
common  to  the  rest,  although  it  was  not  per  se  evidential,  since  the  fact 
of  the  death  was  already  known. 

For  the  present,  however,  it  will  be  better  to  return  to  the  cases  which 
are  free  from  this  important  primd  facie  drawback  —  cases  where  the  per- 
cipient was,  at  any  rate,  unaware  that  the  death,  which  the  phantasm 
seemed  to  indicate,  had  in  fact  taken  place. 

In  the  first  place,  there  are  a  few  cases  where  a  percipient  is  informed 
of  a  death  by  a  veridical  phantasm,  and  then  some  hours  afterwards  a 
similar  phantasm    differing  perhaps  in  detail,  recurs. 

Such  was  the  case  of  Archdeacon  Farler  (i.  p.  414),  who  twice  during 
one  night  saw  the  dripping  figure  of  a  friend  who,  as  it  turned  out,  had 
been  drowned  during  the  previous  day.  Even  the  first  appearance  was 
several  hours  after  the  death,  but  this  we  might  explain  by  the  latency 
of  the  impression  till  a  season  of  quiet.  The  second  appearance  may 
have  been  a  kind  of  recrudescence  of  the  first ;  but  if  the  theory  of  latency 
be  discarded,  so  that  the  first  appearance  (if  more  than  a  mere  chance 
coincidence)  is  held  to  depend  upon  some  energy  excited  by  the  deceased 
person  after  death,  it  would  afford  some  ground  for  regarding  the  second 
appearance  as  also  veridical.  The  figure  in  this  case  was  once  more  seen 
a  fortnight  later,  and  on  this  occasion,  as  Archdeacon  Farler  informs  me, 
in  ordinary  garb,  with  no  special  trace  of  accident. 

A  similar  repetition  occurs  in  seven  other  cases  recorded  in  Phan- 
tasms of  the  Living.2 

1  The  references  in  this  and  the  two  following  pages  are  to  Phantasms  of  the 
Living. 

2  See  the  cases  of  Major  Moncrieff  (i.  p.  415);  of  Mr.  Keulemans  (i.  p.  444),  where 
the  second  phantasm  was  held  by  the  percipient  to  convey  a  fresh  veridical  picture; 
of  Mr.  Hernaman  (i.  p.  561),  where,  however,  the  agent  was  alive,  though  dying,  at 


228  CHAPTER   VII 

Turning  now  to  the  cases  where  the  phantasm  is  not  repeated,  but 
occurs  some  hours  after  death,  let  us  take  a  few  narratives  where  the  in- 
terval of  time  is  pretty  certain,  and  consider  how  far  the  hypothesis  of 
latency  looks  probable  in  each  instance. 

Where  there  is  no  actual  hallucination,  but  only  a  feeling  of  unique 
malaise  or  distress  following  at  a  few  hours'  interval  on  a  friend's  death 
at  a  distance,  as  in  Archdeacon  Wilson's  case  (i.  p.  280),  it  is  very  hard 
to  picture  to  ourselves  what  has  taken  place.  Some  injurious  shock 
communicated  to  the  percipient's  brain  at  the  moment  of  the  agent's  death 
may  conceivably  have  slowly  worked  itself  into  consciousness.  The  delay 
may  have  been  due,  so  to  say,  to  physiological  rather  than  to  psychical 
causes. 

Next  take  a  case  like  that  of  Mrs.  Wheatcroft  (i.  p.  420),  or  of  Mrs. 
Evens  (ii.  p.  690),  or  Sister  Bertha  (quoted  below  in  Appendix  VII.  F), 
where  a  definite  hallucination  of  sight  or  sound  occurs  some  hours  after 
the  death,  but  in  the  middle  of  the  night.  It  is  in  a  case  of  this  sort  that 
we  can  most  readily  suppose  that  a  "telepathic  impact"  received  during 
the  day  has  lain  dormant  until  other  excitations  were  hushed,  and  has 
externalised  itself  as  a  hallucination  after  the  first  sleep,  just  as  when  we 
wake  from  a  first  sleep  some  subject  of  interest  or  anxiety,  which  has  been 
thrust  out  of  our  thoughts  during  the  day,  will  often  well  upwards  into 
consciousness  with  quite  a  new  distinctness  and  force.  But  on  the  other 
hand,  in  the  case  (for  instance)  of  Mrs.  Teale  (ii.  p.  693),  there  is  a  defer- 
ment of  some  eight  hours,  and  then  the  hallucination  occurs  while  the 
percipient  is  sitting  wide  awake  in  the  middle  of  her  family.  And  in  one 
of  the  most  remarkable  dream-cases  in  our  collection  (given  in  Chapter 
IV.),  Mrs.  Storie's  experience  does  not  resemble  the  mere  emergence  of 
a  latent  impression.  It  is  long  and  complex,  and  suggests  some  sort  of 
clairvoyance;  but  if  it  be  "telepathic  clairvoyance,"  that  is,  a  picture  trans- 
ferred from  the  decedent's  mind,  then  it  almost  requires  us  to  suppose 
that  a  post-mortem  picture  was  thus  transferred,  a  view  of  the  accident 
and  its  consequences  fuller  than  any  which  could  have  flashed  through 

the  time  of  the  appearance;  see  also  the  cases  of  Mrs.  Ellis  (ii.  p.  59);  of  Mrs.  D.  (ii. 
p.  467);  of  Mrs.  Fairman  (ii.  p.  482),  and  of  Mr.  F.  J.  Jones  (ii.  p.  500),  where  the 
death  was  again  due  to  drowning,  and  the  act  of  dying  cannot,  therefore,  have  been 
very  prolonged.  We  may  note  also  Mrs.  Reed's  case  (ii.  p.  237),  Captain  Ayre's 
(ii.  p.  256)  and  Mrs.  Cox's  (ii.  p.  235).  In  the  case  of  Miss  Harriss  (ii.  p.  117)  a 
hallucinatory  voice,  about  the  time  of  the  death,  but  not  suggesting  the  decedent, 
is  followed  by  a  dream  the  next  night,  which  presents  the  dead  person  as  in  the  act 
of  dying.  One  or  two  other  cases  might  be  added  to  this  list,  and  it  is  plain  that  the 
matter  is  one  towards  which  observation  should  be  specially  directed. 


PHANTASMS   OF   THE   DEAD  229 

the  dying  man's  mind  during  his  moment  of  sudden  and  violent  death 
from  "the  striking  off  of  the  top  of  the  skull"  by  a  railway  train. 

If  once  we  assume  that  the  deceased  person's  mind  could  continue  to 
act  on  living  persons  after  his  bodily  death,  then  the  confused  horror  of 
the  series  of  pictures  which  were  presented  to  Mrs.  Storie's  view  —  mixed, 
it  should  be  said,  with  an  element  of  fresh  departure  which  there  was  nothing 
in  the  accident  itself  to  suggest  —  would  correspond  well  enough  to  what 
one  can  imagine  a  man's  feelings  a  few  hours  after  such  a  death  to  be. 
This  is  trespassing,  no  doubt,  on  hazardous  ground;  but  if  once  we  admit 
communication  from  the  other  side  of  death  as  a  working  hypothesis, 
we  must  allow  ourselves  to  imagine  something  as  to  the  attitude  of  the 
communicating  mind,  and  the  least  violent  supposition  will  be  that  that 
mind  is  still  in  part  at  least  occupied  with  the  same  thoughts  which  last 
occupied  it  on  earth.  It  is  possible  that  there  may  be  some  interpretation 
of  this  kind  for  some  of  the  cases  where  a  funeral  scene,  or  a  dead  body, 
is  what  the  phantasm  presents.  There  is  a  remarkable  case  (i.  p.  265) 
[§  664]  where  a  lady  sees  the  body  of  a  well-known  London  physician  — 
about  ten  hours  after  death  —  lying  in  a  bare  unfurnished  room  (a  cot- 
tage hospital  abroad).  Here  the  description,  as  we  have  it,  would  certainly 
fit  best  with  some  kind  of  telepathic  clairvoyance  prolonged  after  death 
—  some  power  on  the  deceased  person's  part  to  cause  the  percipient  to 
share  the  picture  which  might  at  that  moment  be  occupying  his  own  mind. 

It  will  be  seen  that  these  phenomena  are  not  of  so  simple  a  type  as 
to  admit  of  our  considering  them  from  the  point  of  view  of  time-relations 
alone.  Whatever  else,  indeed,  a  "ghost"  may  be,  it  is  probably  one  of 
the  most  complex  phenomena  in  nature.  It  is  a  function  of  two  unknown 
variables  —  the  incarnate  spirit's  sensitivity  and  the  discarnate  spirit's 
capacity  of  self-manifestation.  Our  attempt,  therefore,  to  study  such 
intercourse  may  begin  at  either  end  of  the  communication  —  with  the 
percipient  or  with  the  agent.  We  shall  have  to  ask,  How  does  the 
incarnate  mind  receive  the  message?  and  we  shall  have  to  ask  also, 
How  does  the  discarnate  mind  originate  and  convey  it  ? 

Now  it  is  by  pressing  the  former  of  these  two  questions  that  we  have, 
I  think,  the  best  chance  at  present  of  gaining  fresh  light.  So  long  as  we 
are  considering  the  incarnate  mind  we  are,  to  some  extent  at  least,  on 
known  ground;  and  we  may  hope  to  discern  analogies  in  some  other  among 
that  mind's  operations  to  that  possibly  most  perplexing  of  all  its  opera- 
tions, which  consists  in  taking  cognisance  of  messages  from  unembodied 
minds,  and  from  an  unseen  world.  I  think,  therefore,  that  "the  surest 
way,  though  most  about,"  as  Bacon  would  say,  to  the  comprehension 


23o  CHAPTER   VII 

of  this  sudden  and  startling  phenomenon  lies  in  the  study  of  other  rare 
mental  phenomena  which  can  be  observed  more  at  leisure,  just  as  "the 
surest  way,  though  most  about,"  to  the  comprehension  of  some  blazing 
inaccessible  star  has  lain  in  the  patient  study  of  the  spectra  of  the  incan- 
descence of  terrestrial  substances  which  lie  about  our  feet.  I  am  in  hopes 
that  by  the  study  of  various  forms  of  subliminal  consciousness,  subliminal 
faculty,  subliminal  perception,  we  may  ultimately  obtain  a  conception 
of  our  own  total  being  and  operation  which  may  show  us  the  incarnate 
mind's  perception  of  the  discarnate  mind's  message  as  no  isolated  anomaly, 
but  an  orderly  exercise  of  natural  and  innate  powers,  frequently  observed 
in  action  in  somewhat  similar  ways. 

It  is,  I  say,  from  this  human  or  terrene  side  that  I  should  prefer,  were 
it  possible,  to  study  in  the  first  instance  all  our  cases.  Could  we  not  only 
share  but  interpret  the  percipient's  subjective  feelings,  could  we  compare 
those  feelings  with  the  feelings  evoked  by  ordinary  vision  or  telepathy 
among  living  men,  we  might  get  at  a  more  intimate  knowledge  of  what 
is  happening  than  any  observation  from  outside  of  the  details  of  an  ap- 
parition can  supply.  But  this,  of  course,  is  not  possible  in  any  systematic 
way;  occasional  glimpses,  inferences,  comparisons,  are  all  that  we  can 
attain  to  as  yet.  On  the  other  hand,  it  is  comparatively  easy  to  arrange 
the  whole  group  of  our  cases  in  some  series  depending  on  their  observed 
external  character  and  details.  They  can,  indeed,  be  arranged  in  more 
than  one  series  of  this  kind  —  the  difficulty  is  in  selecting  the  most  in- 
structive. That  which  I  shall  here  select  is  in  some  points  arbitrary, 
but  it  has  the  advantage  of  bringing  out  the  wide  range  of  variation  in  the 
clearness  and  content  of  these  apparitional  communications,  here  arranged 
mainly  in  a  descending  series,  beginning  with  those  cases  where  fullest 
knowledge  or  purpose  is  shown,  and  ending  with  those  where  the  indica- 
tion of  intelligence  becomes  feeblest,  dying  away  at  last  into  vague  sounds 
and  sights  without  recognisable  significance. 

But  I  shall  begin  by  referring  to  a  small  group  of  cases,1  which  I 
admit  to  be  anomalous  and  non-evidential  —  for  we  cannot  prove 
that  they  were  .more  than  subjective  experiences  —  yet  which  certainly 
should  not  be  lost,  filling  as  they  do,  in  all  their  grotesqueness,  a 
niche  in  our  series  otherwise  as  yet  vacant.  If  man's  spirit  is  separated 
at  death  from  his  organism,  there  must  needs  be  cases  where  that  separa- 
tion, although  apparently,  is  not  really  complete.  There  must  be  sub- 
jective sensations  corresponding  to  the  objective  external  facts  of  apparent 
death  and  subsequent  resuscitation.    Nor  need  it  surprise  those  who  may 

1  See  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  ii.  p.  305;  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  viii.  p. 
180;  ibid.  p.  194. 


PHANTASMS    OF   THE    DEAD  231 

have  followed  my  general  argument,  if  those  subjective  sensations  should 
prove  to  be  dreamlike  and  fantastic.  Here,  as  so  often  in  our  inquiries, 
the  very  oddity  and  unexpectedness  of  the  details  —  the  absence  of  that 
solemnity  which  one  would  think  the  dying  man's  own  mind  would  have 
infused  into  the  occasion  —  may  point  to  the  existence  of  some  reality 
beneath  the  grotesque  symbolism  of  the  transitional  dream. 

The  transitional  dream,  I  call  it,  for  it  seems  to  me  not  improbable 
—  remote  though  such  a  view  may  be  from  current  notions  —  that  the 
passage  from  one  state  to  another  may  sometimes  be  accompanied  with 
some  temporary  lack  of  adjustment  between  experiences  taking  place 
in  such  different  environments  —  between  the  systems  of  symbolism  be- 
longing to  the  one  and  to  the  other  state.  But  the  reason  why  I  refer 
to  the  cases  in  this  place  is  that  here  we  have  perhaps  our  nearest  pos- 
sible approach  to  the  sensations  of  the  spirit  which  is  endeavouring  to 
manifest  itself;  —  an  inside  view  of  a  would-be  apparition.  The  narratives 
suggest,  moreover,  that  spirits  recently  freed  from  the  body  may  enjoy  a 
fuller  perception  of  earthly  scenes  than  it  is  afterwards  possible  to  retain, 
and  that  thus  the  predominance  of  apparitions  of  the  recently  dead  may 
be  to  some  extent  explained. 

We  have,  indeed,  very  few  cases  where  actual  apparitions  give  evidence 
of  any  continuity  in  the  knowledge  possessed  by  a  spirit  of  friends  on  earth. 
Such  evidence  is,  naturally  enough,  more  often  furnished  by  automatic 
script  or  utterance.  But  there  is  one  case  (which  I  give  in  Appendix 
VII.  A)  where  a  spirit  is  recorded  as  appearing  repeatedly  —  in  guardian- 
angel  fashion  —  and  especially  as  foreseeing  and  sympathising  with  the 
survivor's  future  marriage. 

Among  repeated  apparitions  this  case  at  present  stands  almost  alone; 
its  parallels  will  be  found  when  we  come  to  deal  with  the  persistent  "  con- 
trols," or  alleged  communicating  spirits,  which  influence  trance-utterance 
or  automatic  script.  A  case  bearing  some  resemblance  to  it,  however,  is 
given  in  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  viii.  p.  233,  the  main  difference  being 
that  the  repeated  communications  are  there  made  in  dream,  and  in  Pro- 
ceedings S.P.R.,  vol.  v.  p.  450,  [714  A],  is  recorded  another  case,  where 
the  deceased  person  seems  to  make  repeated  efforts  to  impress  on  sur- 
vivors a  wish  prompted  by  continued  affection. 

Less  uncommon  are  the  cases  where  an  apparition,  occurring  singly 
and  not  repeated,  indicates  a  continued  knowledge  of  the  affairs  of  earth. 
That  knowledge,  indeed,  runs  mainly,  as  we  shall  presently  see,  in  two 
directions.  There  is  often  knowledge  of  some  circumstance  connected 
with  the  deceased  person's  own  death,  as  the  appearance  of  his  body  after 


232  CHAPTER   VII 

dissolution,  or  the  place  of  its  temporary  deposit  or  final  burial.  And 
there  is  often  knowledge  of  the  impending  or  actual  death  of  some  friend 
of  the  deceased  person's.  On  the  view  here  taken  of  the  gradual  passage 
from  the  one  environment  into  the  other,  both  these  kinds  of  knowledge 
seem  probable  enough.  I  think  it  likely  that  some  part  of  the  conscious- 
ness after  death  may  for  some  time  be  dreamily  occupied  with  the  physical 
scene.  And  similarly,  when  some  surviving  friend  is  gradually  verging 
towards  the  same  dissolution,  the  fact  may  be  readily  perceptible  in  the 
spiritual  world.  When  the  friend  has  actually  died,  the  knowledge  which 
his  predecessor  may  Jhave  of  his  transition  is  knowledge  appertaining  to 
events  of  the  next  world  as  much  as  of  this. 

But  apart  from  this  information,  acquired  perhaps  on  the  borderland 
between  two  states,  apparitions  do  sometimes  imply  a  perception  of  more 
definitely  terrene  events,  such  as  the  moral  crises  (as  marriage,  grave  quar- 
rels, or  impending  crimes)  of  friends  left  behind  on  earth.  In  Proceedings 
S.P.R.,  vol.  vi.  p.  25  [716  A],  is  a  case  of  impressive  warning,  in  which  the 
phantom  was  seen  by  two  persons,  one  of  whom  had  already  had  a  less 
evidential  experience. 

In  another  case  of  similar  type,1  the  message,  while  felt  by  the  percipient 
to  be  convincing  and  satisfactory,  was  held  too  private  to  be  communi- 
cated in  detail.  It  is  plain  that  just  in  the  cases  where  the  message  is 
most  intimately  veracious,  the  greatest  difficulty  is  likely  to  be  felt  as  to 
making  it  known  to  strangers. 

I  have  already  given  a  case  (Appendix  VII.  A)  where  a  departed  spirit 
seems  to  show  a  sympathetic  anticipation  of  a  marriage  some  time  before 
it  is  contemplated.  In  another  case  {Journal  S.P.R.,  vol.  v.  p.  10),  the 
percipient,  Mrs.  V.,  describes  a  vision  of  a  mother's  form  suspended,  as 
it  were,  in  a  church  where  her  son  is  undergoing  the  rite  of  confirmation. 
That  vision,  indeed,  might  have  been  purely  subjective,  as  Mrs.  V.  was 
familiar  with  the  departed  mother's  aspect;  though  value  is  given  to  it 
by  the  fact  that  Mrs.  V.  has  had  other  experiences  which  included 
evidential  coincidences. 

From  these  instances  of  knowledge  shown  by  the  departed  of  events 
which  seem  wholly  terrene,  I  pass  to  knowledge  of  events  which  seem 
in  some  sense  more  nearly  concerned  with  the  spirit-world.  We  have, 
as  already  hinted,  a  considerable  group  of  cases  where  a  spirit  seems  to 
be  aware  of  the  impending  death  of  a  survivor.2    In  some  few  of  those 

1  See  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  viii.  p.  236  [716  B]. 

2  See  for  instance  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  vi.  p.  20;  the  same,  vol.  xi.  p.  429  and 
Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  ii.  p.  208  [717  A,  B  and  C]. 


PHANTASMS    OF   THE   DEAD  233 

cases  the  foreknowledge  is  entirely  inexplicable  by  any  such  foresight  as 
we  mortals  can  imagine,  but  in  the  case  given  in  Appendix  VII.  B,  though 
the  family  did  not  foresee  the  death,  a  physician  might,  for  aught  we  know, 
have  been  able  to  anticipate  it.  However  explained,  the  case  is  one  of 
the  best-attested,  and  in  itself  one  of  the  most  remarkable,  that  we 
possess. 

I  place  next  by  themselves  a  small  group  of  cases  which  have  the  in- 
terest of  uniting  the  group  just  recounted,  where  the  spirit  anticipates 
the  friend's  departure,  with  the  group  next  to  be  considered,  where  the 
spirit  welcomes  the  friend  already  departed  from  earth.  This  class  forms 
at  the  same  time  a  natural  extension  of  the  clairvoyance  of  the  dying  ex- 
emplified in  some  " reciprocal"  cases  (e.g.  in  the  case  of  Miss  W.,  where 
a  dying  aunt  has  a  vision  of  her  little  niece  who  sees  an  apparition  of  her 
at  the  same  time;  see  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  ii.  p.  253).  Just  as 
the  approaching  severance  of  spirit  from  body  there  aided  the  spirit  to 
project  its  observation  among  incarnate  spirits  at  a  distance  upon  this 
earth,  so  here  does  that  same  approaching  severance  enable  the  dying 
person  to  see  spirits  who  are  already  in  the  next  world.  It  is  not  very 
uncommon  for  dying  persons  to  say,  or  to  indicate  when  beyond  speech, 
that  they  see  spirit  friends  apparently  near  them.  But,  of  course,  such 
vision  becomes  evidential  only  when  the  dying  person  is  unaware  that  the 
friend  whose  spirit  he  sees  has  actually  departed,  or  is  just  about  to  depart, 
from  earth.  Such  a  conjuncture  must  plainly  be  rare;  it  is  even  rather 
surprising  that  these  "Peak  in  Darien"  cases,  as  Miss  Cobbe  has  termed 
them  in  a  small  collection  which  she  made  some  years  ago,  should  be 
found  at  all.  We  can  add  to  Miss  Cobbe's  cases  two  of  fair  attestation. 
{Proceedings  S.P.  R.,  vol.  iii.  p.  93,  and  vol.  xiv.  p.  288  [718  A  and  B] ). 

From  this  last  group,  then,  there  is  scarcely  a  noticeable  transition 
to  the  group  where  departed  spirits  manifest  their  knowledge  that  some 
friend  who  survived  them  has  now  passed  on  into  their  world.  That 
such  recognition  and  welcome  does  in  fact  take  place,  later  evidence, 
drawn  especially  from  trance-utterances,  will  give  good  ground  to  believe. 
Only  rarely,  however,  will  such  welcome  —  taking  place  as  it  does  in  the 
spiritual  world  —  be  reflected  by  apparitions  in  this.  When  so  reflected, 
it  may  take  different  forms,  from  an  actual  utterance  of  sympathy,  as 
from  a  known  departed  friend,  down  to  a  mere  silent  presence,  perhaps 
inexplicable  except  to  those  who  happen  to  have  known  some  long  pre- 
deceased friend  of  the  decedent's. 

I  quote  in  Appendix  VII.  C  one  of  the  most  complete  cases  of  this 
type,  which  was  brought  to  us  by  the  Census  of  Hallucinations. 


234  CHAPTER   VII 

There  are  other  cases  more  or  less  analogous  to  this.  In  one1  the 
apparition  of  a  dying  mother  brings  the  news  of  her  own  death  and  that 
her  baby  is  living.  In  another2  a  mother  sees  a  vision  of  her  son  being 
drowned  and  also  an  apparition  of  her  own  dead  mother,  who  tells  her 
of  the  drowning.  In  this  case,  the  question  may  be  raised  as  to  whether 
the  second  figure  seen  may  not  have  been,  so  to  say,  substitutive  —  a  symbol 
in  which  the  percipient's  own  mind  clothed  a  telepathic  impression  of  the 
actual  decedent's  passage  from  earth.  Such  a  view  might  perhaps  be 
supported  by  some  anomalous  cases  where  news  of  the  death  is  brought 
by  the  apparition  of  a  person  still  living,  who,  nevertheless,  is  not  by  any 
normal  means  aware  of  the  death.  (See  the  case  of  Mrs.  T.,  already 
given  in  Appendix  IV.  E.) 

But  such  an  explanation  is  not  always  possible.  In  the  case  of  Mrs. 
Bacchus,3  for  instance,  both  the  deceased  person  and  the  phantasmal  figure 
were  previously  unknown  to  the  percipient.  This  case  —  the  last  which 
Edmund  Gurney  published  —  comes  from  an  excellent  witness.  The 
psychical  incident  which  it  seems  to  imply,  while  very  remote  from  popular 
notions,  would  be  quite  in  accordance  with  the  rest  of  our  present  series. 
A  lady  dies ;  her  husband  in  the  spirit-world  is  moved  by  her  arrival ;  and 
the  direction  thus  given  to  his  thought  projects  a  picture  of  him,  clothed 
as  in  the  days  when  he  lived  with  her,  into  visibility  in  the  house  where 
her  body  is  lying.  We  have  thus  a  dream-like  recurrence  to  earthly  mem- 
ories, prompted  by  a  revival  of  those  memories  which  had  taken  place 
in  the  spiritual  world.  The  case  is  midway  between  a  case  of  welcome 
and  a  case  of  haunting. 

I  now  come  to  a  considerable  group  of  cases  where  the  departed  spirit 
shows  a  definite  knowledge  of  some  fact  connected  with  his  own  earth- 
life,  his  death,  or  subsequent  events  connected  with  that  death.  The 
knowledge  of  subsequent  events,  as  of  the  spread  of  the  news  of  his  death, 
or  as  to  the  place  of  his  burial,  is,  of  course,  a  greater  achievement  (so 
to  term  it)  than  a  mere  recollection  of  facts  known  to  him  in  life,  and  ought 
strictly,  on  the- plan  of  this  series,  to  be  first  illustrated.  But  it  will  be 
seen  that  all  these  stages  of  knowledge  cohere  together;  and  their  con- 
nection can  better  be  shown  if  I  begin  at  the  lower  stage,  —  of  mere  earth- 
memory.  Now  here  again,  as  so  often  already,  we  shall  have  to  wait 
for  automatic  script  and  the  like  to  illustrate  the  full  extent  of  the  deceased 
person's  possible  memory.     Readers  of  the  utterances,  for  instance,  of 

1  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  x.  p.  214  [719  A]. 

2  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  i.  p.  449  [719  B]. 

3  See  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  v.  pp.  422-26  [§  720]. 


PHANTASMS   OF   THE   DEAD  235 

"George  Pelham"  (see  Chapter  IX.)  will  know  how  full  and  accurate 
may  be  these  recollections  from  beyond  the  grave.  Mere  apparitions, 
such  as  those  with  which  we  are  now  dealing,  can  rarely  give  more  than 
one  brief  message,  probably  felt  by  the  deceased  to  be  of  urgent  importance. 

A  well-attested  case  where  the  information  communicated  in  a  vision 
proved  to  be  definite,  accurate,  and  important  to  the  survivors  is  given 
in  Appendix  VII.  D.  In  the  same  Appendix  another  case  in  this  group 
is  also  quoted.  It  illustrates  the  fact  that  the  cases  of  deepest  interest 
are  often  the  hardest  for  the  inquirer  to  get  hold  of. 

In  this  connection  I  may  refer  again  to  Mrs.  Storie's  dream  of  the 
death  of  her  brother  in  a  railway  accident,  given  in  Chapter  IV.  While 
I  think  that  Gurney  was  right  —  in  the  state  of  the  evidence  at  the  time 
Phantasms  0}  the  Living  was  written  —  in  doing  his  best  to  bring  this 
incident  under  the  head  of  telepathic  clairvoyance,  I  yet  feel  that  the  know- 
ledge since  gained  makes  it  impossible  for  me  to  adhere  to  that  view.  I 
cannot  regard  the  visionary  scene  as  wholly  reflected  from  the  mind  of 
the  dying  man.  I  cannot  think,  in  the  first  place,  that  the  vision  of  Mr. 
Johnstone  —  interpolated  with  seeming  irrelevance  among  the  details 
of  the  disaster  —  did  only  by  accident  coincide  with  the  fact  that  that 
gentleman  really  was  in  the  train,  and  with  the  further  fact  that  it  was 
he  who  communicated  the  fact  of  Mr.  Hunter's  death  to  Mr.  and  Mrs. 
Storie.  I  must  suppose  that  the  communicating  intelligence  was  aware 
of  Mr.  Johnstone's  presence,  and  at  least  guessed  that  upon  him  (as  a 
clergyman)  that  task  would  naturally  fall.  Nor  can  I  pass  over  as  purely 
symbolic  so  important  a  part  of  the  vision  as  the  second  figure,  and 
the  scrap  of  conversation,  which  seemed  to  be  half  heard.  I  therefore 
consider  that  the  case  falls  among  those  where  a  friend  recently  departed 
appears  in  company  of  some  other  friend,  dead  some  time  before. 

We  have  thus  seen  the  spirit  occupied  shortly  after  death  with  various 
duties  or  engagements,  small  or  great,  which  it  has  incurred  during  life 
on  earth.  Such  ties  seem  to  prompt  or  aid  its  action  upon  its  old  surround- 
ings. And  here  an  important  reflection  occurs.  Can  we  prepare  such 
a  tie  for  the  departing  spirit?  Can  we  create  for  it  some  welcome  and 
helpful  train  of  association  which  may  facilitate  the  self-manifestation 
which  many  souls  appear  to  desire  ?  I  believe  that  we  can  to  some  extent 
do  this.  At  an  early  stage  of  our  collection,  Edmund  Gurney  was  struck 
by  the  unexpectedly  large  proportion  of  cases  where  the  percipient  in- 
formed us  that  there  had  been  a  compact  between  himself  and  the  deceased 
person  that  whichever  passed  away  first  should  try  to  appear  to  the  other. 
"Considering,"  he  adds,  "what  an  extremely  small  number  of  persons 


236  CHAPTER   VII 

make  such  a  compact,  compared  with  those  who  do  not,  it  is  difficult  to 
resist  the  conclusion  that  its  existence  has  a  certain  efficacy." 

Let  us  now  review  the  compact-cases  given  in  Phantasms  0}  the  Living 
and  consider  how  far  they  seem  to  indicate  ante-mortem  or  post-mortem 
communication.  The  twelve  cases  there  recorded  are  such  as  fell,  or  may 
have  fallen,  within  twelve  hours  of  the  death.  In  three  of  these  cases, 
the  agent  whose  phantasm  appeared  was  certanly  still  alive.  In  most  of 
the  other  cases  the  exact  time  relation  is  obscure;  in  a  few  of  them  there  is 
strong  probability  that  the  agent  was  already  dead.  The  inference  will  be 
that  the  existence  of  a  promise  or  compact  may  act  effectively  both  on  the 
subliminal  self  before  death  and  also  probably  on  the  spirit  after  death. 

This  conclusion  is  confirmed  by  several  other  cases,  one  of  which  is 
given  in  Appendix  VII.  E.  This  case  suggests  an  important  practical 
reflection.  When  a  compact  to  appear,  if  possible,  after  death  is  made, 
it  should  be  understood  that  the  appearance  need  not  be  to  the  special 
partner  in  the  compact,  but  to  any  one  whom  the  agent  can  succeed  in 
impressing.  It  is  likely  enough  that  many  such  attempts,  which  have 
failed  on  account  of  the  surviving  friend's  lack  of  appropriate  sensi- 
tivity, might  have  succeeded  if  the  agent  had  tried  to  influence  some  one 
already  known  to  be  capable  of  receiving  these  impressions.1  There  is 
a  case  given  in  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  v.  p.  440,  in  which  a  lady, 
having  made  a  compact  with  her  husband  and  also  with  a  friend,  her 
phantom  is  seen  after  her  death  by  her  husband  and  daughter  and  the 
latter's  nurse,  collectively ;  but  not  by  the  friend,  who  was  living  elsewhere. 

Again,  we  cannot  tell  how  long  the  spirit  may  continue  the  effort, 
or,  so  to  say,  renew  the  experiment.  In  a  case  recorded  in  Proceedings 
S.P.R.,  vol.  x.  p.  378,  the  compact  is  fulfilled  after  a  space  of  five  years. 
In  another  case,2  there  had  been  no  formal  compact;  but  there  is  an 
attempt  to  express  gratitude  on  an  anniversary  of  death ;  and  this  implies 
the  same  kind  of  mindful  effort  as  the  fulfilment  of  a  definite  promise. 

I  have  now  traced  certain  post-mortem  manifestations  which  reveal 
a  recollection  of  events  known  at  death,  and  also  a  persistence  of  purpose 
in  carrying  out  intentions  formed  before  death.  In  this  next  group  I 
shall  trace  the  knowledge  of  the  departed  a  little  further,  and  shall  discuss 
some  cases  where  they  appear  cognisant  of  the  aspect  of  their  bodies  after 
death,  or  of  the  scenes  in  which  those  bodies  are  temporarily  deposited 
or  finally  laid.     Such  knowledge  may  appear  trivial,  —  unworthy  the  atten- 

1  The  cases  recorded  in  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  ii.  p.  216,  and  Proceedings 
S.P.R.,  vol.  x.  p.  263  [727  A  and  B]  may  be  regarded  as  deflected  fulfilments. 

2 Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  x.  p.  383.  See  also  ibid.  p.  371  and  vol.  viii.  p.  214 
[728  A  and  B  and  §  726]. 


PHANTASMS    OF   THE    DEAD  237 

tion  of  spirits  transported  into  a  higher  world.  But  it  is  in  accordance 
with  the  view  of  a  gradual  transference  of  interests  and  perceptions,  — 
a  period  of  intermediate  confusion,  such  as  may  follow  especially  upon 
a  death  of  a  sudden  or  violent  kind,  or  perhaps  upon  a  death  which  in- 
terrupts very  strong  affections. 

Thus  we  have  already  (Appendix  VII.  B)  encountered  one  striking 
case  of  this  type,  —  the  scratch  on  the  cheek,  perceived  by  the  departed 
daughter,  as  we  may  conjecture,  by  reason  of  the  close  sympathy  which 
united  her  to  the  mother  who  was  caring  for  her  remains. 

There  are  also  two  cases  closely  resembling  each  other,  though  from 
percipients  in  widely  different  parts  of  the  world,  where  a  clairvoyant 
vision  seems  to  be  presented  of  a  tranquil  death-chamber.  In  that  of  Mr. 
Hector  of  Valencia,  South  Australia  (see  Phantasms  0)  the  Living,  vol.  i. 
p.  353),  the  percipient  sees  in  a  dream  his  father  dying  in  the  room  he 
usually  occupied,  with  a  candle  burning  on  a  chair  by  his  bed;  and  the 
father  is  found  dead  in  the  morning,  with  a  candle  by  his  bedside  in  the 
position  seen  in  the  dream.  There  is  not,  however,  in  this  case  any  sure 
indication  that  the  dead  or  dying  person  was  cognisant  of  his  own  body's 
aspect  or  surroundings.  There  may  have  been  a  clairvoyant  excursion 
on  the  percipient's  part,  evoked  by  some  impulse  from  the  agent  which 
did  not  itself  develop  into  distinctness.1 

But  in  certain  cases  of  violent  death  there  seems  to  have  been  an  in- 
tention on  the  deceased  person's  part  to  show  the  condition  in  which  his 
body  is  left.  Such  was  Mrs.  Storie's  dream,  or  rather  series  of  visions 
referred  to  earlier  in  this  chapter.  Such  are  the  cases  given  in  Phantasms 
0)  the  Living,  vol.  i.  p.  365  [429  A],  and  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  iii.  (1885) 
p.  95  [§  730].  Here,  too,  may  be  placed  two  cases  —  those  of  Dr.  Bruce 
(in  Appendix  IV.  D)  and  Miss  Hall  (Journal  S.P.R.,  vol.  vii.  p.  173 
[731  A])  — where  there  are  successive  pictures  of  a  death  and  the  sub- 
sequent arrangement  of  the  body.  The  milieux  of  the  percipients,  the 
nature  of  the  deaths,  are  here  again  totally  disparate;  yet  we  seem  to 
see  the  same  unknown  laws  producing  effects  closely  similar. 

In  Dr.  Bruce's  case  one  might  interpret  the  visions  as  coming  to  the 
percipient  through  the  mind  of  his  wife,  who  was  present  at  the  scene  of 
the  murder.  But  this  explanation  would  be  impossible  in  Miss  Hall's 
case.  Rather  it  seems  as  though  some  telepathic  link,  set  up  between 
the  dying  brother  and  the  sister,  had  been  maintained  after  death  until 
all  duties  had  been  fulfilled  to  the  departed.  The  case  reminds  one  of 
the  old  Homeric  notions  of  the  restless  appeal  of  unburied  comrades. 
1  For  the  other  case  see  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  i,  p.  265. 


238  CHAPTER   VII 

In  the  case  of  Mrs.  Green  (Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  v.  p.  420  [429  D] ), 
we  come  across  an  interesting  problem.  Two  women  are  drowned  under 
very  peculiar  circumstances.  A  friend  has  apparently  a  clairvoyant  vision 
of  the  scene,  yet  not  at  the  moment  when  it  occurred,  but  many  hours 
afterwards,  and  about  the  time  when  another  person,  deeply  interested, 
heard  of  the  death.  It  is  therefore  possible  to  suppose  that  the  apparently 
clairvoyant  scene  was  in  reality  impressed  telepathically  on  the  percipient 
by  another  living  mind.  I  think,  however,  that  both  the  nature  of  the 
vision  and  certain  analogies,  which  will  appear  later  in  our  argument, 
point  to  a  different  view,  involving  an  agency  both  of  the  dead  and  of  the 
living.  I  conjecture  that  a  current  of  influence  may  be  started  by  a  de- 
ceased person,  which,  however,  only  becomes  strong  enough  to  be  per- 
ceptible to  its  object  when  reinforced  by  some  vivid  current  of  emotion 
arising  in  living  minds.  I  do  not  say  that  this  is  yet  provable;  yet  the 
hint  may  be  of  value  when  the  far-reaching  interdependencies  of  telepathy 
between  the  two  worlds  come  to  be  better  understood. 

Two  singular  cases  in  this  group  remain,  where  the  departed  spirit, 
long  after  death,  seems  preoccupied  with  the  spot  where  his  bones  are  laid. 
The  first  of  these  cases  (Journal  S.P.R.,  vol.  vi.  p.230  [733  A])  approaches 
farce;  the  second  (in  which  the  skeleton  of  a  man  who  had  probably  been 
murdered  about  forty  years  before  was  discovered  by  means  of  a  dream; 
see  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  vi.  p.  35),  stands  alone  among  our  narratives 
in  the  tragedy  which  follows  on  the  communication.  Mr.  Podmore  in 
an  article  in  the  same  volume  (p.  303)  suggests  other  theories  to  account 
for  this  case  without  invoking  the  agency  of  the  dead;  but  to  me  the  least 
impossible  explanation  is  still  the  notion  that  the  murdered  man's  dreams 
harked  back  after  all  those  years  to  his  remote  unconsecrated  grave.  I 
may  refer  further  to  another  case  (in  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  iv.  p.  155, 
footnote)  where  feelings  of  horror  and  depression  "were  constantly  experi- 
enced in  a  room  over  which  a  baby's  body  was  afterwards  found.  This 
case  makes,  perhaps,  for  another  explanation  —  depending  not  so  much 
on  any  continued  influence  of  the  departed  spirit  as  on  some  persistent 
influence  inhering  in  the  bones  themselves  —  deposited  under  circum- 
stances of  terror  or  anguish,  and  possibly  in  some  way  still  radiating  a 
malignant  memory.  Bizarre  as  this  interpretation  looks,  we  shall  find 
some  confirmation  of  such  a  possibility  in  our  chapter  on  Possession.  Yet 
another  case  belonging  to  the  same  group  (Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  v. 
p.  418)  supplies  a  variant  on  this  view;  suggesting,  as  Edward  Gurney 
has  remarked,  the  local  imprintation  of  a  tragic  picture,  by  whom  and 
upon  what  we  cannot  tell. 

I  think  it  well  to  suggest  even  these  wild  conjectures;  so  long  as  they 


PHANTASMS   OF   THE   DEAD  239 

are  understood  to  be  conjectures  and  nothing  more.  I  hold  it  probable 
that  those  communications,  of  which  telepathy  from  one  spirit  to  another 
forms  the  most  easily  traceable  variety,  are  in  reality  infinitely  varied  and 
complex,  and  show  themselves  from  time  to  time  in  forms  which  must 
for  long  remain  quite  beyond  our  comprehension. 

The  next  class  of  cases  in  this  series  well  illustrates  this  unexpected- 
ness. It  has  only  been  as  the  result  of  a  gradual  accumulation  of  con- 
cordant cases  that  I  have  come  to  believe  there  is  some  reality  in  the  bizarre 
supposition  that  the  departed  spirit  is  sometimes  specially  aware  of  the 
time  at  which  news  of  his  death  is  about  to  reach  some  given  friend.1  Proof 
of  such  knowledge  on  his  part  is  rendered  harder  by  the  alternative  pos- 
sibility that  the  friend  may  by  clairvoyance  become  aware  of  a  letter  in 
his  own  proximity.  As  was  shown  in  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  there  is 
some  evidence  for  such  clairvoyance  even  in  cases  where  the  letter  seen 
is  quite  unimportant. 

Again,  there  are  cases  where  the  percipient  states  that  a  cloud  of  un- 
reasonable depression  fell  upon  him  about  the  time  of  his  friend's  death 
at  a  distance,  and  continued  until  the  actual  news  arrived;  when,  instead 
of  becoming  intensified,  it  lifted  suddenly.  In  one  or  two  such  cases 
there  was  an  actual  presence  or  apparition,  which  seemed  to  hang  about 
until  the  news  arrived,  and  then  disappeared.  Or,  on  the  other  hand, 
there  is  sometimes  a  happy  vision  of  the  departed  preluding  the  news, 
as  though  to  prepare  the  percipient's  mind  for  the  shock  (Proceedings 
S.P.R.,  vol.  iii.  p.  90  [735  A] ).  The  suggested  inference  is  that  in  such 
cases  the  spirit's  attention  is  more  or  less  continuously  directed  to  the 
survivor  until  the  news  reaches  him.  This  does  not,  of  course,  explain 
how  the  spirit  learns  as  to  the  arrival  of  the  news ;  yet  it  makes  that  piece 
of  knowledge  seem  a  less  isolated  thing. 

Having  thus  referred  to  a  number  of  cases  where  the  apparition  shows 
varying  degrees  of  knowledge  or  memory,  I  pass  on  to  the  somewhat 
commoner  type,  where  the  apparition  lacks  the  power  or  the  impulse  to 
communicate  any  message  much  more  definite  than  that  all-important 
one  —  of  his  own  continued  life  and  love.  These  cases,  nevertheless, 
might  be  subdivided  on  many  lines.  Each  apparition,  even  though  it 
be  momentary,  is  a  phenomenon  complex  in  more  ways  than  our  minds 
can  follow.  We  must  look  for  some  broad  line  of  demarcation,  which  may 
apply  to  a  great  many  different  incidents,  while  continuing  to  some  extent 

1  For  cases  illustrating  this,  see  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  v.  p.  409  [§  734];  also 
Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  viii.  p.  220;  ibid.  p.  218;  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  ii.  p. 
690;  and  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  x.  p.  373  [§  736  and  736  A,  B  and  C], 


24o  CHAPTER   VII 

the  series  which  we  have  already  been  descending  —  from  knowledge 
and  purpose  on  the  deceased  person's  part  down  to  vagueness  and  ap- 
parent automatism. 

Such  a  division  —  gradual,  indeed,  but  for  that  very  reason  the  more 
instructive  —  exists  between  personal  and  local  apparitions ;  between 
manifestations  plainly  intended  to  impress  the  minds  of  certain  definite 
survivors  and  manifestations  in  accustomed  haunts,  some  of  which,  indeed, 
may  be  destined  to  impress  survivors,  but  which  degenerate  and  disin- 
tegrate into  sights  and  sounds  too  meaningless  to  prove  either  purpose 
or  intelligence. 

Let  us  look,  then,  for  these  characteristics,  not  expecting,  of  course, 
that  our  series  will  be  logically  simple;  for  it  must  often  happen  that  the 
personal  and  local  impulses  will  be  indistinguishable,  as  when  the  desired 
percipient  is  inhabiting  the  familiar  home.  But  we  may  begin  with  some 
cases  where  the  apparition  has  shown  itself  in  some  scene  altogether 
strange  to  the  deceased  person. 

We  have  had,  of  course,  some  cases  of  this  type  already.  Such  was 
the  case  of  the  apparition  with  the  red  scratch  (Appendix  VII.  B);  such 
too  was  the  apparition  in  the  Countess  Kapnist's  carriage  (Appendix 
VII.  E).  Such  cases,  indeed,  occur  most  frequently  — and  this  fact  is 
itself  significant  —  among  the  higher  and  more  developed  forms  of  mani- 
festation. Among  the  briefer,  less-developed  apparitions  with  which 
we  have  now  to  deal,  invasions  by  the  phantasm  of  quite  unknown 
territory  are  relatively  few.  I  will  begin  by  referring  to  a  curious  case, 
where  the  impression  given  is  that  of  a  spiritual  presence  which  seeks 
and  finds  the  percipient,  but  is  itself  too  confused  for  coherent  com- 
munication (Mrs.  Lightfoot's  case,  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  i.  p. 
453  [429  B] ).  It  will  be  seen  that  this  narrative  is  thoroughly  in  accord- 
ance with  previous  indications  of  a  state  of  posthumous  bewilderment 
supervening  before  the  spirit  has  adjusted  its  perceptions  to  the  new 
environment. 

In  cases  like  Mrs.  Lightfoot's,  where  the  percipient's  surroundings 
are  unknown  to  the  deceased  person,  and  especially  in  cases  where  the 
intimation  of  a  death  reaches  the  percipient  when  at  sea,  there  is  plainly 
nothing  except  the  percipient's  own  personality  to  guide  the  spirit  in  his 
search.  We  have  several  narratives  of  this  type.  In  one  of  these  — 
Archdeacon  Farler's,  already  referred  to  (p.  227),  the  apparition  appears 
twice,  the  second  appearance  at  least  being  subsequent  to  the  death.  It 
is  plain  that  if  in  such  a  case  the  second  apparition  conveys  no  fresh  in- 
telligence, we  cannot  prove  that  it  is  more  than  a  subjective  recrudescence 


PHANTASMS    OF   THE    DEAD  241 

of  the  first.  Yet  analogy  is  in  favour  of  its  veridical  character,  since  we 
have  cases  where  successive  manifestations  do  bring  fresh  knowledge, 
and  seem  to  show  a  continued  effort  to  communicate.1 

Then,  again,  there  are  auditory  cases  where  the  phantasmal  speech 
has  occurred  in  places  not  known  to  the  deceased  person.  (Proceedings 
S.P.R.,  vol.  iii.  p.  90,  and  vol.  v.  p.  455.) 

One  specially  impressive  characteristic  of  apparitions  (as  has  been 
already  remarked)  is  their  occasional  collectivity  —  the  fact  that  more 
percipients  than  one  sometimes  see  or  hear  the  phantasmal  figure  or  voice 
simultaneously.  When  one  is  considering  the  gradual  decline  in  definite- 
ness  and  apparent  purpose  from  one  group  of  apparitions  to  another, 
it  is  natural  to  ask  whether  this  characteristic  —  in  my  view  so  important 
—  is  found  to  accompany  especially  the  higher,  more  intelligent  mani- 
festations. 

I  cannot  find  that  this  is  so.  On  the  contrary,  it  is,  I  think,  in  cases 
of  mere  haunting  that  we  oftenest  find  that  the  figure  is  seen  by  several 
persons  at  once,  or  else  (a  cognate  phenomenon)  by  several  persons  suc- 
cessively. I  know  not  how  to  explain  this  apparent  tendency.  Could 
we  admit  the  underlying  assumptions,  it  would  suit  the  view  that  the 
"haunting"  spirits  are  "earthbound,"  and  thus  somehow  nearer  to  matter 
than  spirits  more  exalted.  Yet  instances  of  collectivity  are  scattered 
through  all  classes  of  apparitions ;  and  the  irregular  appearance  of  a  char- 
acteristic which  seems  to  us  so  fundamental  affords  another  lesson  how 
great  may  be  the  variety  of  inward  mechanism  in  cases  which  to  us  might 
seem  constructed  on  much  the  same  type. 

I  pass  on  to  a  group  of  cases  which  are  both  personal  and  local; 
although  the  personal  element  in  most  of  them — the  desire  to  manifest 
to  the  friend  —  may  seem  more  important  than  the  local  element  —  the 
impulse  to  revisit  some  accustomed  haunt. 

In  the  case  which  I  shall  now  cite  the  deceased  person's  image  is  seen 
simultaneously  by  several  members  of  his  own  household,  in  his  own  house. 
Note  the  analogy  to  a  collective  crystal  vision.2 

The  account  is  taken  from  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  ii.  p.  213. 
It  is  given  by  Mr.  Charles  A.  W.  Lett,  of  the  Military  and  Royal  Naval 
Club,  Albemarle  Street,  W. 

1  See  for  instance  Journal  S.P.R.,  vol.  vii.  p.  173. 

2  This  analogy  suggests  itself  still  more  forcibly  in  the  remarkable  case  recorded 
in  Journal  S.P.R.,  vol.  xii.  p.  17.  Here  the  visions,  seen  in  a  mirror,  were  perceived 
simultaneously,  though  not  quite  in  the  same  way,  by  four  witnesses,  and  lasted  for 
an  appreciable  length  of  time. 


242  CHAPTER   VII 

December  $rd,  1885. 

On  the  5th  April  1873  my  wife's  father,  Captain  Towns,  died  at  his 
residence,  Cranbrook,  Rose  Bay,  near  Sidney,  N.  S.  Wales.  About  six 
weeks  after  his  death  my  wife  had  occasion,  one  evening  about  nine  o'clock, 
to  go  to  one  of  the  bedrooms  in  the  house.  She  was  accompanied  by  a 
young  lady,  Miss  Berthon,  and  as  they  entered  the  room  —  the  gas  was 
burning  all  the  time  —  they  were  amazed  to  see,  reflected  as  it  were  on 
the  polished  surface  of  the  wardrobe,  the  image  of  Captain  Towns.  It 
was  barely  half  figure,  the  head,  shoulders,  and  part  of  the  arms  only 
showing  —  in  fact,  it  was  like  an  ordinary  medallion  portrait,  but  life- 
size.  The  face  appeared  wan  and  pale,  as  it  did  before  his  death,  and 
he  wore  a  kind  of  grey  flannel  jacket,  in  which  he  had  been  accustomed 
to  sleep.  Surprised  and  half  alarmed  at  what  they  saw,  their  first  idea 
was  that  a  portrait  had  been  hung  in  the  room,  and  that  what  they  saw 
was  its  reflection;  but  there  was  no  picture  of  the  kind. 

Whilst  they  were  looking  and  wondering,  my  wife's  sister,  Miss  Towns, 
came  into  the  room,  and  before  either  of  the  others  had  time  to  speak 
she  exclaimed,  "  Good  gracious!  Do  you  see  papa?"  One  of  the  house- 
maids happened  to  be  passing  downstairs  at  the  moment,  and  she  was 
called  in,  and  asked  if  she  saw  anything,  and  her  reply  was,  "Oh,  miss! 
the  master."  Graham  —  Captain  Towns'  old  body  servant  —  was  then 
sent  for,  and  he  also  immediately  exclaimed,  "Oh,  Lord  save  us!  Mrs. 
Lett,  it's  the  Captain!"  The  butler  was  called,  and  then  Mrs.  Crane, 
my  wife's  nurse,  and  they  both  said  what  they  saw.  Finally,  Mrs.  Towns 
was  sent  for,  and,  seeing  the  apparition,  she  advanced  towards  it  with 
her  arm  extended  as  if  to  touch  it,  and  as  she  passed  her  hand  over  the 
panel  of  the  wardrobe  the  figure  gradually  faded  away,  and  never  again 
appeared,  though  the  room  was  regularly  occupied  for  a  long  time  after. 

These  are  the  simple  facts  of  the  case,  and  they  admit  of  no  doubt; 
no  kind  of  intimation  was  given  to  any  of  the  witnesses;  the  same  ques- 
tion was  put  to  each  one  as  they  came  into  the  room,  and  the  reply  was 
given  without  hesitation  by  each.  It  was  by  the  merest  accident  that  I 
did  not  see  the  apparition.  I  was  in  the  house  at  the  time,  but  did  not 
hear  when  I  was  called.  C.  A.  W.  Lett. 

We,  the  undersigned,  having  read  the  above  statement,  certify  that 
it  is  strictly  accurate,  as  we  both  were  witnesses  of  the  apparition. 

Sara  Lett. 
Sibbie  Smyth  (nee  Towns). 

Gurney  writes :  — 

Mrs.  Lett  assures  me  that  neither  she  nor  her  sister  ever  experienced 
a  hallucination  of  the  senses  on  any  other  occasion.  She  is  positive  that 
the  recognition  of  the  appearance  on  the  part  of  each  of  the  later  wit- 
nesses was  independent,  and  not  due  to  any  suggestion  from  the  persons 
already  in  the  room. 

There  is  another  collective  case  which  is  noticeable  from  the  fact  that 
the  departed  spirit  appears  to  influence  two  persons  at  a  distance  from 


PHANTASMS   OF   THE   DEAD  243 

each  other  in  a  concordant  way,  so  that  one  of  them  becomes  conscious 
of  the  appearance  to  the  other.1  Compare  with  this  the  incident  given 
at  the  end  of  Appendix  VII.  G,  when  Miss  Campbell  has  a  vision  of  her 
friend  seeing  an  apparition  at  a  time  when  this  is  actually  occurring.2 

The  case  given  in  Appendix  VII.  F  —  which  comes  from  excellent 
informants  —  is  one  of  those  which  correspond  most  nearly  to  what  one 
would  desire  in  a  posthumous  message.  I  may  refer  also  to  General  Camp- 
bell's case  (in  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  v.  p.  476)  in  which  a  long  continued 
series  of  unaccountable  noises  and  an  apparition  twice  seen  by  a  child  in 
the  house  suggested  to  the  narrator  the  agency  of  his  dead  wife.  The 
case,  which  depends  for  its  evidential  force  on  a  great  mass  of  detail,  is 
too  long  for  me  to  quote;  but  it  is  worth  study,  as  is  any  case  where  there 
seems  evidence  of  persistent  effort  to  manifest,  meeting  with  one  knows 
not  what  difficulty.  It  may  be  that  in  such  a  story  there  is  nothing  but 
strange  coincidence,  or  it  may  be  that  from  records  of  partially  successful 
effort,  renewed  often  and  in  ambiguous  ways,  we  shall  hereafter  learn 
something  of  the  nature  of  that  curtain  of  obstruction  which  now  seems 
so  arbitrary  in  its  sudden  lifting,  its  sudden  fall. 

I  will  conclude  this  group  by  referring  the  reader  to  three  cases  closely 
similar,  all  well  attested,  and  all  of  them  capable  of  explanation  either  on 
local  or  personal  grounds.  In  the  first  (Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  ii. 
p.  619  [744  A] )  an  apparition  is  seen  by  two  persons  in  a  house  in 
Edinburgh,  a  few  hours  before  the  death  of  a  lady  who  had  lived  there, 
and  whose  body  was  to  be  brought  back  to  it.  In  the  second  (Proceed- 
ings S.P.R.,  vol.  vi.  p.  57  [744  B] )  the  dead  librarian  haunts  his  library, 
but  in  the  library  are  members  of  his  old  staff.  In  the  third  (Phantasms 
of  the  Living,  vol.  i.  p.  212  [§744]),  the  dead  wife  loiters  round  her 
husband's  tomb,  but  near  it  passes  a  gardener  who  had  been  in  her 
employ. 

In  this  last  case  the  apparition  was  seen  about  seven  and  a  half  hours 
after  the  death.  This,  as  Gurney  remarked,  makes  it  still  more  difficult 
to  regard  the  case  as  a  telepathic  impression  transmitted  at  the  moment 
of  death,  and  remaining  latent  in  the  mind  of  the  percipient.  The  in- 
cident suggests  rather  that  Bard,  the  gardener,  had  come  upon  Mrs.  de 

1  See  the  Proceedings  of  the  American  Society  for  Psychical  Research,  vol.  i.  p.  446 
[74i  A]. 

2  In  the  case  recorded  in  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  viii.  p.  173  [§  742],  the  decedent 
would  appear  to  be  satisfying  both  a  local  and  a  personal  attraction.  See  also  the 
cases  given  in  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  iii.  p.  93,  and  vol.  v.  p.  437  [742  A],  which 
are  somewhat  similar. 


244  CHAPTER   VII 

Freville's  spirit,  so  to  say,  unawares.  One  cannot  imagine  that  she 
specially  wished  him  to  see  her,  and  to  see  her  engaged  in  what  seems 
so  needless  and  undignified  a  retracing  of  currents  of  earthly  thought. 
Rather  this  seems  a  rudimentary  haunting  —  an  incipient  lapse  into 
those  aimless,  perhaps  unconscious,  reappearances  in  familiar  spots 
which  may  persist  (as  it  would  seem)  for  many  years  after  death. 

A  somewhat  similar  case  is  that  of  Colonel  Crealock  (in  Proceedings 
S.P.R.,  vol.  v.  p.  432)  where  a  soldier  who  had  been  dead  some  hours  was 
seen  by  his  superior  officer  in  camp  at  night  rolling  up  and  taking  away 
his  bed. 

It  is,  indeed,  mainly  by  dwelling  on  these  intermediate  cases,  between 
a  message-bringing  apparition  and  a  purposeless  haunt,  that  we  have 
most  hope  of  understanding  the  typical  haunt  which,  while  it  has  been 
in  a  sense  the  most  popular  of  all  our  phenomena,  is  yet  to  the  careful 
inquirer  one  of  the  least  satisfactory.  One  main  evidential  difficulty 
generally  lies  in  identifying  the  haunting  figure,  in  finding  anything  to 
connect  the  history  of  the  house  with  the  vague  and  often  various  sights 
and  sounds  which  perplex  or  terrify  its  flesh  and  blood  inhabitants.  We 
must,  at  any  rate,  rid  ourselves  of  the  notion  that  some  great  crime  or 
catastrophe  is  always  to  be  sought  as  the  groundwork  of  a  haunt  of  this 
kind.  To  that  negative  conclusion  our  cases  concordantly  point  us.1 
The  apparition  is  most  often  seen  by  a  stranger,  several  months  after 
the  death,  with  no  apparent  reason  for  its  appearance  at  that  special 
time.  This  last  point  is  of  interest  in  considering  the  question  whether 
the  hallucinatory  picture  could  have  been  projected  from  any  still  incar- 
nate mind.  In  one  case — the  vision  of  the  Bishop  of  St.  Brieuc  (given 
in  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  v.  p.  460),  there  was  such  a  special  reason 
—  the  Bishop's  body,  unknown  to  the  percipient,  was  at  that  moment 
being  buried  at  the  distance  of  a  few  miles.  Mr.  Podmore  suggests 
(op.  ciL,  yol-  vi.  p.  301)  that  it  was  from  the  minds  of  the  living 
mourners  that  the  Bishop's  phantasm  was  generated.  That  hypothesis 
may  have  its  portion  of  truth;  the  surrounding  emotion  may  have  been 
one  of  the  factors  which  made  the  apparition  possible.  But  the  assump- 
tion that  it  was  the  only  admissible  factor  —  that  the  departed  Bishop's 

1  See,  however,  Sir  Arthur  Beecher's  case  (Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  iii.  p.  no) 
where  there  was  at  least  a  rumour  of  some  crime.  In  Mrs.  M.'s  case,  too  (Proceedings 
S.P.R.,  vol.  viii.  p.  178)  and  Mrs.  Pennee's  (Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  vi.  p.  60)  there 
is  some  indication  of  past  troubles  in  which  the  percipients,  of  course,  were  in  no  way 
concerned.  But  in  no  other  cases  has  there  been  anything,  as  far  as  we  know,  which 
could  trouble  the  departed  spirit  with  importunate  memories  of  his  earthly  home. 


PHANTASMS    OF    THE    DEAD  245 

own  possible  agency  must  be  set  aside  altogether  —  lands  us,  I  think, 
in  difficulties  greater  than  those  which  we  should  thus  escape.  The 
reader  who  tries  to  apply  it  to  the  apparitions  quoted  in  my  earlier 
groups  will  find  himself  in  a  labyrinth  of  complexity.  Still  more  will 
this  be  the  case  in  dealing  with  the  far  fuller  and  more  explicit  motor 
communications,  by  automatic  writing  or  speech,  which  we  shall  have 
to  discuss  in  the  two  next  chapters.  Unless  the  actual  evidence  be  dis- 
allowed in  a  wholesale  manner,  we  shall  be  forced,  I  think,  to  admit 
the  continued  action  of  the  departed  as  a  main  element  in  these 
apparitions. 

I  do  not  say  as  the  only  element.  I  myself  hold,  as  already  implied, 
that  the  thought  and  emotion  of  living  persons  does  largely  intervene,  as 
aiding  or  conditioning  the  independent  action  of  the  departed.  I  even 
believe  that  it  is  possible  that,  say,  an  intense  fixation  of  my  own  mind  on 
a  departed  spirit  may  aid  that  spirit  to  manifest  at  a  special  moment  — 
and  not  even  to  me,  but  to  a  percipient  more  sensitive  than  myself. 
In  the  boundless  ocean  of  mind  innumerable  currents  and  tides  shift  with 
the  shifting  emotion  of  each  several  soul. 

But  now  we  are  confronted  by  another  possible  element  in  these  vaguer 
classes  of  apparitions,  harder  to  evaluate  even  than  the  possible  action 
of  incarnate  minds.  I  mean  the  possible  results  of  past  mental  action, 
which,  for  aught  we  know,  may  persist  in  some  perceptible  manner,  with- 
out fresh  reinforcement,  just  as  the  results  of  past  bodily  action  persist. 
This  question  leads  to  the  still  wider  question  of  retrocognition,  and  of 
the  relation  of  psychical  phenomena  to  time  generally  —  a  problem  whose 
discussion  cannot  be  attempted  here.1  Yet  we  must  remember  that  such 
possibilities  exist;  they  may  explain  certain  phenomena  into  which  little 
of  fresh  intelligence  seems  to  enter,  as,  for  instance,  the  alleged  persistence, 
perhaps  for  years,  of  meaningless  sounds  in  a  particular  room  or  house. 

And  since  we  are  coming  now  to  cases  into  which  this  element  of  mean- 
ingless sound  will  enter  largely,  it  seems  right  to  begin  their  discussion 
with  a  small  group  of  cases  where  there  is  evidence  for  the  definite  agency 
of  some  dying  or  deceased  person  in  connection  with  inarticulate  sounds, 
or  I  should  rather  say  of  the  connection  of  some  deceased  person  with 
the  sounds;  since  the  best  explanation  may  perhaps  be  that  they  are  sounds 
0}  welcome  —  before  or  after  actual  death  —  corresponding  to  those  appari- 
tions of  welcome  of  which  we  have  already  had  specimens.     One  of  our 

1  For  a  discussion  of  this  problem,  illustrated  by  a  large  number  of  cases,  see 
my  article  on  "Retrocognition  and  Precognition"  in  the  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  xi. 
PP-  334-593- 


246  CHAPTER   VII 

cases  (see  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  ii.  p.  639  [§  747] )  is  remarkable 
in  that  the  auditory  hallucination  —  a  sound  as  of  female  voices  gently 
singing  —  was  heard  by  five  persons,  by  four  of  them,  as  it  seems,  inde- 
pendently, and  in  two  places,  on  different  sides  of  the  house.  At  the 
same  time,  one  person  —  the  Eton  master  whose  mother  had  just  died, 
and  who  was  therefore  presumably  in  a  frame  of  mind  more  prone  to 
hallucination  than  the  physician,  matron,  friend,  or  servants  who  actually 
did  hear  the  singing  —  himself  heard  nothing  at  all.  In  this  case  the 
physician  felt  no  doubt  that  Mrs.  L.  was  actually  dead;  and  in  fact  it 
was  during  the  laying  out  of  the  body  that  the  sounds  occurred. 

I  have  already  discussed  (Chapter  VI.)  the  nature  of  these  phantasmal 
sounds;  —  nor  is  it  contrary  to  our  analogies  that  the  person  most  deeply 
concerned  in  the  death  should  in  this  case  fail  to  hear  them.  But  the 
point  on  which  I  would  here  lay  stress  is  that  phantasmal  sounds  —  even 
non-articulate  sounds  —  may  be  as  clear  a  manifestation  of  personality 
as  phantasmal  figures.  Among  non-articulate  noises  music  is,  of  course, 
the  most  pleasing;  but  sounds,  for  instance,  which  imitate  the  work  of  a 
carpenter's  shop,  may  be  equally  human  and  intelligent.  In  some  of 
the  cases  of  this  class  we  see  apparent  attempts  of  various  kinds  to  simu- 
late sounds  such  as  men  and  women  —  or  manufactured,  as  opposed 
to  natural,  objects — are  accustomed  to  produce.  To  claim  this  humanity, 
to  indicate  this  intelligence,  seems  the  only  motive  of  sounds  of  this 
kind.1 

These  sounds,  in  their  rudimentary  attempt  at  showing  intelligence, 
are  about  on  a  level  with  the  exploits  of  the  "Poltergeist,"  where  coals 
are  thrown  about,  water  spilt,  and  so  forth.  Poltergeist  phenomena, 
however,  seldom  coincide  with  the  ordinary  phenomena  of  a  haunt.  We 
have  one  remarkable  case  (Journal  S.P.R.,  vol.  ix.  p.  280-84  [868  B] ) 
where  Poltergeist  phenomena  coincide  with  a  death,  and  a  few  cases 
where  they  are  supposed  to  follow  on  a  death;  but,  as  a  rule,  where 
figures  appear  there  are  no  movements;  and  where  there  are  move- 
ments no  apparition  is  seen.  If  alleged  Poltergeist  phenomena  are 
always  fraudulent,  there  would  be  nothing  to  be  surprised  at  here.  If, 
as  I  suspect,  they  are  sometimes  genuine,  their  dissociation  from  visual 
hallucinations  may  sometimes  afford  us  a  hint  of  value. 

1  See,  however,  Mrs.  Sidgwick's  remarks  (Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  iii.  pp.  79-80), 
as  to  the  rarity  of  any  indication  of  intelligence  in  such  sounds,  and  the  possibility 
of  reading  more  intelligence  into  them  than  they  really  possess.  There  is  now, 
of  course,  more  evidence  as  to  these  sounds  than  there  was  at  the  date  of  Mrs. 
Sidgwick's  paper  (1885). 


PHANTASMS    OF   THE   DEAD  247 

But  after  Poltergeists  have  been  set  aside,  —  after  a  severe  line  has 
been  drawn  excluding  all  those  cases  (in  themselves  singular  enough) 
where  the  main  phenomena  observed  consist  of  non-articulate  sounds, 
—  there  remains  a  great  mass  of  evidence  to  haunting,  —  that  is,  broadly 
speaking,  to  the  fact  that  there  are  many  houses  in  which  more  than  one 
person  has  independently  seen  phantasmal  figures,  which  usually,  though 
not  always,  bear  at  least  some  resemblance  to  each  other.1  The  facts 
thus  baldly  stated  are  beyond  dispute.  Their  true  interpretation  is  a 
very  difficult  matter.  Mrs.  Sidgwick  gives  four  hypotheses,  which  I  must 
quote  at  length  as  the  first  serious  attempt  ever  made  (so  far  as  I  know) 
to  collect  and  face  the  difficulties  of  this  problem,  so  often,  but  so  loosely, 
discussed  through  all  historical  times.  (From  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol. 
iii.  pp.  146-8.) 

"I  will,  therefore,  proceed  briefly  to  state  and  discuss  the  only  four 
theories  that  have  occurred  to  me. 

"The  two  which  I  will  take  first  in  order  assume  that  the  apparitions 
are  due  to  the  agency  or  presence  of  the  spirits  of  deceased  men. 

"There  is  first  the  popular  view,  that  the  apparition  is  something 
belonging  to  the  external  world  —  that,  like  ordinary  matter,  it  occupies 
and  moves  through  space,  and  would  be  in  the  room  whether  the  per- 
cipient were  there  to  see  it  or  not.  This  hypothesis  involves  us  in  many 
difficulties,  of  Which  one  serious  one  —  that  of  accounting  for  the  clothes 
of  the  ghost  —  has  often  been  urged,  and  never,  I  think,  satisfactorily 
answered.  Nevertheless,  I  am  bound  to  admit  that  there  is  some  little 
evidence  tending  to  suggest  this  theory.  For  instance,  in  the  account,2 
of  which  I  have  given  an  abstract,  of  the  weeping  lady  who  has  appeared 
so  frequently  in  a  certain  house,  the  following  passage  occurs:  —  'They 
went  after  it  (the  figure)  together  into  the  drawing-room;  it  then  came 
out,  and  went  down  the  aforesaid  passage  (leading  to  the  kitchen),  but 
was  the  next  minute  seen  by  another  Miss  [M.]  .  .  .come  up  the  outside 
steps  from  the  kitchen.  On  this  particular  day,  Captain  [M.'s]  married 
daughter  happened  to  be  at  an  upstairs  window  .  .  .  and  independently 

1  Thus  Mrs.  Sidgwick,  even  as  far  back  as  1885  {Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  iii.  p.  142), 
writes:  "I  can  only  say  that  having  made  every  effort  —  as  my  paper  will,  I  hope, 
have  shown  —  to  exercise  a  reasonable  scepticism,  I  yet  do  not  feel  equal  to  the  degree 
of  unbelief  in  human  testimony  necessary  to  avoid  accepting,  at  least  provisionally, 
the  conclusion  that  there  are,  in  a  certain  sense,  haunted  houses,  i.e.,  that  there  are 
houses  in  which  similar  quasi-human  apparitions  have  occurred  at  different  times 
to  different  inhabitants,  under  circumstances  which  exclude  the  hypothesis  of  sug- 
gestion or  expectation." 

2  This  case  is  given  in  Appendix  VII.  G. 


248  CHAPTER   VII 

saw  the  figure  continue  her  course  across  the  lawn  and  into  the  orchard.' 
A  considerable  amount  of  clear  evidence  to  the  appearance  of  ghosts  to 
independent  observers  in  successive  points  in  space  would  certainly  afford 
a  strong  argument  for  their  having  a  definite  relation  to  space;  but  in 
estimating  evidence  of  this  kind  it  would  be  necessary  to  know  how  far 
the  observer's  attention  had  been  drawn  to  the  point  in  question.  If 
it  had  been  a  real  woman  whom  the  Miss  [M.'s]  were  observing,  we  should 
have  inferred,  with  perfect  certainty,  from  our  knowledge  that  she  could 
not  be  in  two  places  at  once,  that  she  had  been  successively,  in  a  certain 
order,  in  the  places  where  she  was  seen  by  the  three  observers.  If  they 
had  noted  the  moments  at  which  they  saw  her,  and  comparing  notes  after- 
wards, found  that  according  to  these  notes  they  had  all  seen  her  at  the 
same  time,  or  in  some  other  order  to  that  inferred,  we  should  still  feel 
absolute  confidence  in  our  inference,  and  should  conclude  that  there  must 
be  something  wrong  about  the  watches  or  the  notes.  From  association 
of  ideas,  it  would  be  perfectly  natural  to  make  the  same  inference  in  the 
case  of  a  ghost  which  looks  exactly  like  a  woman.  But  in  the  case  of 
the  ghost  the  inference  would  not  be  legitimate,  because,  unless  the  par- 
ticular theory  of  ghosts  which  we  are  discussing  be  true,  there  is  no  reason, 
so  far  as  we  know,  why  it  should  not  appear  in  two  or  more  places  at  once. 
Hence,  in  the  case  of  the  ghost,  a  well-founded  assurance  that  the  ap- 
pearances were  successive  would  require  a  careful  observation  of  the  times, 
which,  so  far  as  I  know,  has  never  been  made.  On  the  whole,  therefore, 
I  must  dismiss  the  popular  theory  as  not  having,  in  my  opinion,  even  a 
primd  facie  ground  for  serious  consideration. 

"The  theory  that  I  will  next  examine  seems  to  me  decidedly  more 
plausible,  from  its  analogy  to  the  conclusion  to  which  I  am  brought  by 
the  examination  of  the  evidence  for  phantasms  of  the  living.  This  theory 
is  that  the  apparition  has  no  real  relation  to  the  external  world,  but  is  a 
hallucination  caused  in  some  way  by  some  communication,  without  the 
intervention  of  the  senses,  between  the  disembodied  spirit  and  the  per- 
cipient, its  form  depending  on  the  mind  either  of  the  spirit  or  of  the  per- 
cipient, or  of  both.  In  the  case  of  haunted  houses,  however,  a  difficulty 
meets  us  that  we  do  not  encounter,  or  at  least  rarely  encounter,  in  applying 
a  similar  hypothesis  to  explain  phantasms  of  the  living,  or  phantasms 
of  the  dead  other  than  fixed  local  ghosts.  In  these  cases  we  have  gen- 
erally to  suppose  a  simple  rapport  between  mind  and  mind,  but  in  a  haunted 
house  we  have  a  rapport  complicated  by  its  apparent  dependence  on  locality. 
It  seems  necessary  to  make  the  improbable  assumption,  that  the  spirit 
is  interested  in  an  entirely  special  way  in  a  particular  house  (though 


PHANTASMS    OF    THE    DEAD  249 

possibly  this  interest  may  be  of  a  subconscious  kind),  and  that  his  interest 
in  it  puts  him  into  connection  with  another  mind,  occupied  with  it  in  the 
way  that  that  of  a  living  person  actually  there  must  consciously  or  uncon- 
sciously be,  while  he  does  not  get  into  similar  communication  with  the 
same,  or  with  other  persons  elsewhere. 

"If,  notwithstanding  these  difficulties,  it  be  true  that  haunting  is  due 
in  any  way  to  the  agency  of  deceased  persons,  and  conveys  a  definite  idea 
of  them  to  the  percipients  through  the  resemblance  to  them  of  the  appari- 
tion, then,  by  patiently  continuing  our  investigations,  we  may  expect, 
sooner  or  later,  to  obtain  a  sufficient  amount  of  evidence  to  connect  clearly 
the  commencement  of  hauntings  with  the  death  of  particular  persons, 
and  to  establish  clearly  the  likeness  of  the  apparition  to  those  persons. 
The  fact  that  almost  everybody  is  now  photographed  ought  to  be  of 
material  assistance  in  obtaining  evidence  of  this  latter  kind. 

"My  third  theory  dispenses  with  the  agency  of  disembodied  spirits, 
but  involves  us  in  other  and  perhaps  equally  great  improbabilities.  It  is 
that  the  first  appearance  is  a  purely  subjective  hallucination,  and  that 
the  subsequent  similar  appearances,  both  to  the  original  percipient  and 
to  others,  are  the  result  of  the  first  appearance;  unconscious  expectancy 
causing  them  in  the  case  of  the  original  percipient,  and  some  sort  of  tele- 
pathic communication  from  the  original  percipient  in  the  case  of  others. 
In  fact,  it  assumes  that  a  tendency  to  a  particular  hallucination  is  in  a 
way  infectious.  If  this  theory  be  true,  I  should  expect  to  find  that  the 
apparently  independent  appearances  after  the  first  depended  on  the  per- 
cipient's having  had  some  sort  of  intercourse  with  some  one  who  had  seen 
the  ghost  before,  and  that  any  decided  discontinuity  of  occupancy  would 
stop  the  haunting.  I  should  also  expect  to  find,  as  we  do  in  one  of  the 
cases  I  have  quoted,  that  sometimes  the  supposed  ghost  would  follow 
the  family  from  one  abode  to  another,  appearing  to  haunt  them  rather 
than  any  particular  house. 

"The  fourth  theory  that  I  shall  mention  is  one  which  I  can  hardly 
expect  to  appear  plausible,  and  which,  therefore,  I  only  introduce  because 
I  think  that  it  corresponds  best  to  a  certain  part  of  the  evidence;  —  and, 
as  I  have  already  said,  considering  the  altogether  tentative  way  in  which 
we  are  inevitably  dealing  with  this  obscure  subject,  it  is  as  well  to  express 
definitely  every  hypothesis  which  an  impartial  consideration  of  the  facts 
suggests.  It  is  that  there  is  something  in  the  actual  building  itself  — 
some  subtle  physical  influence  —  which  produces  in  the  brain  that  effect 
which,  in  its  turn,  becomes  the  cause  of  a  hallucination.  It  is  certainly 
difficult  on  this  hypothesis  alone  to  suppose  that  the  hallucinations  of 


250  CHAPTER   VII 

different  people  would  be  similar,  but  we  might  account  for  this  by  a  com- 
bination of  this  hypothesis  and  the  last.  The  idea  is  suggested  by  the 
case,  of  which  I  have  given  an  abstract,  where  the  haunting  continued 
through  more  than  one  occupancy,  but  changed  its  character;  and  if  there 
be  any  truth  in  the  theory,  I  should  expect  in  time  to  obtain  a  good  deal 
more  evidence  of  this  kind,  combined  with  evidence  that  the  same  persons 
do  not  as  a  rule  encounter  ghosts  elsewhere.  I  should  also  expect  evidence 
to  be  forthcoming  supporting  the  popular  idea  that  repairs  and  alterations 
of  the  building  sometimes  cause  the  haunting  to  cease."1 

These  hypotheses  —  none  of  which,  as  Mrs.  Sidgwick  expressly  states 
{op.  cit.,  p.  145),  seemed  to  herself  satisfactory  —  did  nevertheless,  I 
think,  comprise  all  the  deductions  which  could  reasonably  be  made  from 
the  evidence  as  it  at  that  time  stood.  A  few  modifications,  which  the 
experience  of  subsequent  years  has  led  me  to  introduce,  can  hardly  be 
said  to  afford  further  explanation,  although  they  state  the  difficulties  in 
what  now  seems  to  me  a  more  hopeful  way. 

In  the  first  place  then  —  as  already  explained  in  Chapter  VI.  —  I  in 
some  sense  fuse  into  one  Mrs.  Sidgwick's  two  first  hypotheses  by  my  own 
hypothesis  of  actual  presence,  actual  spatial  changes  induced  in  the  mete- 
therial,  but  not  in  the  material  world.  I  hold  that  when  the  phantasm  is 
discerned  by  more  than  one  person  at  once  (and  on  some  other,  but  not 
all  other  occasions)  it  is  actually  effecting  a  change  in  that  portion  of  space 
where  it  is  perceived,  although  not,  as  a  rule,  in  the  matter  which  occupies 
that  place.  It  is,  therefore,  not  optically  nor  acoustically  perceived;  per- 
haps no  rays  of  light  are  reflected  nor  waves  of  air  set  in  motion;  but 
an  unknown  form  of  supernormal  perception,  not  necessarily  acting  through 
the  sensory  end-organs,  comes  into  play.  In  the  next  place,  I  am  inclined 
to  lay  stress  on  the  parallel  between  these  narratives  of  haunting  and 
those  phantasms  of  the  living  which  I  have  already  classed  as  psychorrhagic. 

1  In  an  earlier  part  of  this  paper,  I  mentioned  cases  of  haunted  houses  where  the 
apparitions  are  various,  and  might  therefore  all  of  them  be  merely  subjective  hallucina- 
tions, sometimes,  perhaps,  caused  by  expectancy.  It  is,  of  course,  also  possible  to 
explain  these  cases  by  the  hypothesis  we  are  now  discussing.  Another  class  of  cases 
is,  perhaps,  worth  mentioning  in  this  connection.  We  have  in  the  collection  two 
cases  of  what  was  believed  by  the  narrators  to  be  a  quite  peculiar  feeling  of  discom- 
fort, in  houses  where  concealed  and  long  since  decomposed  bodies  were  subsequently 
found.  Such  feelings  are  seldom  clearly  defined  enough  to  have  much  evidential 
value,  for  others,  at  any  rate,  than  the  percipient;  even  though  mentioned  beforehand, 
and  definitely  connected  with  the  place  where  the  skeleton  was.  But  if  there  be  really 
any  connection  between  the  skeleton  and  the  feeling,  it  may  possibly  be  a  subtle 
physical  influence  such  as  I  am  suggesting.  —  E.  M.  S. 


PHANTASMS    OF   THE   DEAD  251 

In  each  case,  as  it  seems  to  me,  there  is  an  involuntary  detachment  of 
some  element  of  the  spirit,  probably  with  no  knowledge  thereof  at  the 
main  centre  of  consciousness.  Those  "haunts  by  the  living,"  as  they  may 
be  called,  where,  for  instance,  a  man  is  seen  phantasmally  standing  before 
his  own  fireplace,  seem  to  me  to  be  repeated,  perhaps  more  readily, 
after  the  spirit  is  freed  from  the  flesh. 

Again,  I  think  that  the  curious  question  as  to  the  influence  of  certain 
houses  in  generating  apparitions  may  be  included  under  the  broader  head- 
ing of  Retrocognition.  That  is  to  say,  we  are  not  here  dealing  with  a 
special  condition  of  certain  houses,  but  with  a  branch  of  the  wide  problem 
as  to  the  relation  of  supernormal  phenomena  to  time.  Manifestations 
which  occur  in  haunted  houses  depend,  let  us  say,  on  something  which 
has  taken  place  a  long  time  ago.  In  what  way  do  they  depend  on  that 
past  event  ?  Are  they  a  sequel,  or  only  a  residue  ?  Is  there  fresh  opera- 
tion going  on,  or  only  fresh  perception  of  something  already  accomplished  ? 
Or  can  we  in  such  a  case  draw  any  real  distinction  between  a  continued 
action  and  a  continued  perception  of  a  past  action?  The  closest  parallel, 
as  it  seems  to  me,  although  not  at  first  sight  an  obvious  one,  lies  between 
these  phenomena  of  haunting,  these  persistent  sights  and  sounds,  and 
certain  phenomena  of  crystal-vision  and  of  automatic  script,  which  also 
seem  to  depend  somehow  upon  long-past  events,  —  to  be  their  sequel  or 
their  residue.  One  specimen  case  I  give  in  Appendix  (VII.  G),  where 
the  connection  of  the  haunting  apparition  with  a  certain  person  long  de- 
ceased may  be  maintained  with  more  than  usual  plausibility.  From  that 
level  the  traceable  connections  get  weaker  and  weaker,  until  we  come 
to  phantasmal  scenes  where  there  is  no  longer  any  even  apparent  claim 
to  the  contemporary  agency  of  human  spirits.  Such  a  vision,  for  instance, 
as  that  of  a  line  of  spectral  deer  crossing  a  ford,  may  indeed,  if  seen  in 
the  same  place  by  several  independent  observers,  be  held  to  be  something 
more  than  a  mere  subjective  fancy;  but  what  in  reality  such  a  picture 
signifies  is  a  question  which  brings  us  at  once  to  theories  of  the  perma- 
nence or  simultaneity  of  all  phenomena  in  a  timeless  Universal  Soul. 

Such  conceptions,  however  difficult,  are  among  the  highest  to  which 
our  mind  can  reach.  Could  we  approach  them  more  nearly,  they  might 
deeply  influence  our  view,  even  of  our  own  remote  individual  destiny. 
So,  perhaps,  shall  it  some  day  be;  at  present  we  may  be  well  satisfied  if 
we  can  push  our  knowledge  of  that  destiny  one  step  further  than  of  old, 
even  just  behind  that  veil  which  has  so  long  hung  impenetrably  before 
the  eyes  of  men. 

Here,  then,  is  a  natural  place  of  pause  in  our  inquiry. 


252  CHAPTER   VII 

The  discussion  of  the  ethical  aspect  of  these  questions  I  have  post- 
poned to  my  concluding  chapter.  But  one  point  already  stands  out 
from  the  evidence — at  once  so  important  and  so  manifest  that  it  seems 
well  to  call  attention  to  it  at  once  —  as  a  solvent  more  potent  than 
any  Lucretius  could  apply  to  human  superstition  and  human  fears. 

In  this  long  string  of  narratives,  complex  and  bizarre  though  their 
details  may  be,  we  yet  observe  that  the  character  of  the  appearance  varies 
in  a  definite  manner  with  their  distinctness  and  individuality.  Haunting 
phantoms,  incoherent  and  unintelligent,  may  seem  restless  and  unhappy. 
But  as  they  rise  into  definiteness,  intelligence,  individuality,  the  phantoms 
rise  also  into  love  and  joy.  I  cannot  recall  one  single  case  of  a  proved 
posthumous  combination  of  intelligence  with  wickedness.  Such  evil  as 
our  evidence  will  show  us  —  we  have  as  yet  hardly  come  across  it  in  this 
book  —  is  scarcely  more  than  monkeyish  mischief,  childish  folly.  In 
dealing  with  automatic  script,  for  instance,  we  shall  have  to  wonder  whence 
come  the  occasional  vulgar  jokes  or  silly  mystifications.  We  shall  discuss 
whether  they  are  a  kind  of  dream  of  the  automatist's  own,  or  whether  they 
indicate  the  existence  of  unembodied  intelligences  on  the  level  of  the  dog 
or  the  ape.  But,  on  the  other  hand,  all  that  world-old  conception  of  Evil 
Spirits,  of  malevolent  Powers,  which  has  been  the  basis  of  so  much  of 
actual  devil-worship  and  of  so  much  more  of  vague  supernatural  fear;  — 
all  this  insensibly  melts  from  the  mind  as  we  study  the  evidence  before  us. 

Hunc  igitur  terrorem  animi  tenebrasque  necessest 
Non  radii  solis,  neque  lucida  tela  diei 
Discutiant  sed,  naturae  species  ratioque. 

Here  surely  is  a  fact  of  no  little  meaning.  Our  narratives  have  been 
collected  from  men  and  women  of  many  types,  holding  all  varieties  of 
ordinary  opinion.  Yet  the  upshot  of  all  these  narratives  is  to  emphasise 
a  point  which  profoundly  differentiates  the  scientific  from  the  supersti- 
tious view  of  spiritual  phenomena.  The  terror  which  shaped  primitive 
theologies  still  tinges  for  the  populace  every  hint  of  intercourse  with  dis- 
embodied souls.  The  transmutation  of  savage  fear  into  scientific  curiosity 
is  of  the  essence  of  civilisation.  Towards  that  transmutation  each  separate 
fragment  of  our  evidence,  with  undesigned  concordance,  indisputably 
tends.  In  that  faintly  opening  world  of  spirit  I  can  find  nothing  worse 
than  living  men;  I  seem  to  discern  not  an  intensification  but  a  disintegra- 
tion of  selfishness,  malevolence,  pride.  And  is  not  this  a  natural  result 
of  any  cosmic  moral  evolution  ?  If  the  selfish  man  (as  Marcus  Antoninus 
has  it)  "is  a  kind  of  boil  or  imposthume  upon  the  universe,"  must  not  his 


PHANTASMS    OF   THE    DEAD  253 

egoistic  impulses  suffer  in  that  wider  world  a  sure,  even  if  a  painful,  decay; 
finding  no  support  or  sustenance  among  those  permanent  forces  which 
maintain  the  stream  of  things? 

I  have  thus  indicated  one  point  of  primary  importance  on  which  the 
undesignedly  coincident  testimony  of  hundreds  of  first-hand  narratives 
supports  a  conclusion,  not  yet  popularly  accepted,  but  in  harmony  with 
the  evolutionary  conceptions  which  rule  our  modern  thought.  Nor  does 
this  point  stand  alone.  I  can  find,  indeed,  no  guarantee  of  absolute  and 
idle  bliss;  no  triumph  in  any  exclusive  salvation.  But  the  student  of 
these  narratives  will,  I  think,  discover  throughout  them  uncontradicted 
indications  of  the  persistence  of  Love,  the  growth  of  Joy,  the  willing  sub- 
mission to  Law. 

These  indications,  no  doubt,  may  seem  weak  and  scattered  in  com- 
parison with  the  wholesale,  thorough-going  assertions  of  philosophical 
or  religious  creeds.  Their  advantage  is  that  they  occur  incidentally  in 
the  course  of  our  independent  and  cumulative  demonstration  of  the  pro- 
foundest  cosmical  thesis  which  we  can  at  present  conceive  as  susceptible 
of  any  kind  of  scientific  proof.  Cosmical  questions,  indeed,  there  may 
be  which  are  in  themselves  of  deeper  import  than  our  own  survival  of 
bodily  death.  The  nature  of  the  First  Cause;  the  blind  or  the  providential 
ordering  of  the  sum  of  things;  —  these  are  problems  vaster  than  any  which 
affect  only  the  destinies  of  men.  But  to  whatever  moral  certainty  we 
may  attain  on  those  mightiest  questions,  we  can  devise  no  way  whatever 
of  bringing  them  to  scientific  test.  They  deal  with  infinity;  and  our 
modes  of  investigation  have  grasp  only  on  finite  things. 

But  the  question  of  man's  survival  of  death  stands  in  a  position  uniquely 
intermediate  between  matters  capable  and  matters  incapable  of  proof. 
It  is  in  itself  a  definite  problem,  admitting  of  conceivable  proof  which, 
even  if  not  technically  rigorous,  might  amply  satisfy  the  scientific  mind. 
And  at  the  same  time  the  conception  which  it  involves  is  in  itself  a  kind 
of  avenue  and  inlet  into  infinity.  Could  a  proof  of  our  survival  be  ob- 
tained, it  would  carry  us  deeper  into  the  true  nature  of  the  universe  than 
we  should  be  carried  by  an  even  perfect  knowledge  of  the  material  scheme 
of  things.  It  would  carry  us  deeper  both  by  achievement  and  by  promise. 
The  discovery  that  there  was  a  life  in  man  independent  of  blood  and  brain 
would  be  a  cardinal,  a  dominating  fact  in  all  science  and  in  all  philosophy. 
And  the  prospect  thus  opened  to  human  knowledge,  in  this  or  in  other 
worlds,  would  be  limitless  indeed. 


CHAPTER  VIII 
MOTOR  AUTOMATISM 

MijK^rt  fi6vov  (rv/xirveiv  t#  Trepiix0VTl  &fyi,  d\V  ijdr)  /cat  ffv/n^poveiv 
r<fi  irepi^xovrt  ir&PTCL  voep$. 

—  Marcus  Aurelius. 

At  this  point,  one  may  broadly  say,  we  reach  the  end  of  the  phenomena 
whose  existence  is  vaguely  familiar  to  popular  talk.  And  here,  too,  I 
might  fairly  claim,  the  evidence  for  my  primary  thesis,  —  namely,  that 
the  analysis  of  man's  personality  reveals  him  as  a  spirit,  surviving  death, 
—  has  attained  an  amplitude  which  would  justify  the  reader  in  accepting 
that  view  as  the  provisional  hypothesis  which  comes  nearest  to  a  compre- 
hensive co-ordination  of  the  actual  facts.  What  we  have  already  recounted 
seems,  indeed,  impossible  to  explain  except  by  supposing  that  our  inner 
vision  has  widened  or  deepened  its  purview  so  far  as  to  attain  some 
glimpses  of  a  spiritual  world  in  which  the  individualities  of  our 
departed  friends  still  actually  subsist. 

The  reader,  however,  who  has  followed  me  thus  far  must  be  well  aware 
that  a  large  class  of  phenomena,  of  high  importance,  is  still  awaiting  dis- 
cussion. Motor  automatisms,  —  though  less  familiar  to  the  general  public 
than  the  phantasms  which  I  have  classed  as  sensory  automatisms,  —  are 
in  fact  even  commoner,  and  even  more  significant. 

Motor  automatisms,  as  I  define  them,  are  phenomena  of  very  wide 
range.  We  have  encountered  them  already  many  times  in  this  book.  We 
met  them  in  the  first  place  in  a  highly  developed  form  in  connection  with 
multiplex  personality  in  Chapter  II.  Numerous  instances  were  there 
given  of  motor  effects,  initiated  by  secondary  selves  without  the  knowledge 
of  the  primary  selves,  or  sometimes  in  spite  of  their  actual  resistance.  All 
motor  action  of  a  secondary  self  is  an  automatism  in  this  sense,  in  relation 
to  the  primary  self.  And  of  course  we  might  by  analogy  extend  the  use 
of  the  word  still  further,  and  might  call  not  only  post-epileptic  acts,  but 
also  maniacal  acts,  automatic;  since  they  are  performed  without  the  ini- 
tiation of  the  presumedly  sane  primary  personality.     Those  degenerative 

254 


MOTOR   AUTOMATISM  255 

phenomena,  indeed,  are  not  to  be  discussed  in  this  chapter.  Yet  it  will 
be  well  to  pause  here  long  enough  to  make  it  clear  to  the  reader  just  what 
motor  automatisms  I  am  about  to  discuss  as  evolutive  phenomena,  and 
as  therefore  falling  within  the  scope  of  this  treatise;  —  and  what  kind 
of  relation  they  bear  to  the  dissolutive  motor  phenomena  which  occupy 
so  much  larger  a  place  in  popular  knowledge. 

In  order  to  meet  this  last  question,  I  must  here  give  more  distinct 
formulation  to  a  thesis  which  has  already  suggested  itself  more  than 
once  in  dealing  with  special  groups  of  our  phenomena, 

//  may  be  expected  that  supernormal  vital  phenomena  will  manifest 
themselves  as  jar  as  possible  through  the  same  channels  as  abnormal  or 
morbid  vital  phenomena,  when  the  same  centres  or  the  same  synergies  are 
involved. 

To  illustrate  the  meaning  of  this  theorem,  I  may  refer  to  a  remark 
long  ago  made  by  Edmund  Gurney  and  myself  in  dealing  with  "Phan- 
tasms of  the  Living,"  or  veridical  hallucinations,  generated  (as  we  main- 
tained), not  by  a  morbid  state  of  the  percipient's  brain,  but  by  a  telepathic 
impact  from  an  agent  at  a  distance.  We  observed  that  if  a  hallucination 
—  a  subjective  image  —  is  to  be  excited  by  this  distant  energy,  it  will 
probably  be  most  readily  excited  in  somewhat  the  same  manner  as  the 
morbid  hallucination  which  follows  on  a  cerebral  injury.  We  urged  that 
this  is  likely  to  be  the  case  —  we  showed  ground  for  supposing  that  it  is 
the  case  —  both  as  regards  the  mode  of  evolution  of  the  phantasm  in  the 
percipient's  brain,  and  the  mode  in  which  it  seems  to  present  itself  to 
his  senses. 

And  here  I  should  wish  to  give  a  much  wider  generality  to  this  prin- 
ciple, and  to  argue  that  if  there  be  within  us  a  secondary  self  aiming  at 
manifestation  by  physiological  means,  it  seems  probable  that  its  readiest 
path  of  extemalisation  —  its  readiest  outlet  of  visible  action  —  may  often 
lie  along  some  track  which  has  already  been  shown  to  be  a  line  of  low 
resistance  by  the  disintegrating  processes  of  disease.  Or,  varying  the 
metaphor,  we  may  anticipate  that  the  partition  of  the  primary  and  the 
secondary  self  will  lie  along  some  plane  of  cleavage  which  the  morbid  dis- 
sociations of  our  psychical  synergies  have  already  shown  themselves  dis- 
posed to  follow.  If  epilepsy,  madness,  etc.,  tend  to  split  up  our  faculties 
in  certain  ways,  automatism  is  likely  to  split  them  up  in  ways  somewhat 
resembling  these. 

But  in  what  way  then,  it  will  be  asked,  do  you  distinguish  the  super- 
normal from  the  merely  abnormal?  Why  assume  that  in  these  aberrant 
states  there  is  anything  besides  hysteria,  besides  epilepsy,  besides  insanity  ? 


256  CHAPTER   VIII 

The  answer  to  this  question  has  virtually  been  given  in  previous  chap- 
ters of  this  book.  The  reader  is  already  accustomed  to  the  point  of  view 
which  regards  all  psychical  as  well  as  all  physiological  activities  as  neces- 
sarily either  developmental  or  degenerative,  tending  to  evolution  or  to 
dissolution.  And  now,  whilst  altogether  waiving  any  teleological  specu- 
lation, I  will  ask  him  hypothetically  to  suppose  that  an  evolutionary  nisus, 
something  which  we  may  represent  as  an  effort  towards  self-development, 
self-adaptation,  self-renewal,  is  discernible  especially  on  the  psychical 
side  of  at  any  rate  the  higher  forms  of  life.  Our  question,  Supernormal 
or  abnormal  ?  —  may  then  be  phrased,  Evolutive  or  dissolutive  ?  And 
in  studying  each  psychical  phenomenon  in  turn  we  shall  have  to  inquire 
whether  it  indicates  a  mere  degeneration  of  powers  already  acquired,  or, 
on  the  other  hand,  the  "  promise  and  potency,"  if  not  the  actual  possession, 
of  powers  as  yet  unrecognised  or  unknown. 

Thus,  for  instance,  Telepathy  is  surely  a  step  in  evolution.1  To  learn 
the  thoughts  of  other  minds  without  the  mediation  of  the  special  senses, 
manifestly  indicates  the  possibility  of  a  vast  extension  of  psychical  powers. 
And  any  knowledge  which  we  can  amass  as  to  the  conditions  under  which 
telepathic  action  takes  place  will  form  a  valuable  starting-point  for  an 
inquiry  as  to  the  evolutive  or  dissolutive  character  of  unfamiliar  psychical 
states.2 

For  example,  we  may  learn  from  our  knowledge  of  telepathy  that  the 
superficial  aspect  of  certain  stages  of  psychical  evolution,  like  the  super- 
ficial aspect  of  certain  stages  of  physiological  evolution,  may  resemble  mere 

1  To  avoid  misconception,  I  may  point  out  that  this  view  in  no  way  negatives 
the  possibility  that  telepathy  (or  its  correlative  telergy)  may  be  in  some  of  its  aspects 
commoner,  or  more  powerful,  among  savages  than  among  ourselves.  Evolutionary 
processes  are  not  necessarily  continuous.  The  acquirement  by  our  lowly-organised 
ancestors  of  the  sense  of  smell  (for  instance)  was  a  step  in  evolution.  But  the  sense 
of  smell  probably  reached  its  highest  energy  in  races  earlier  than  man;  and  it  has  per- 
ceptibly declined  even  in  the  short  space  which  separates  civilised  man  from  existing 
savages.  Yet  if,  with  some  change  in  our  environment,  the  sense  of  smell  again 
became  useful,  and  we  reacquired  it,  this  would  be  none  the  less  an  evolutionary 
process  because  the  evolution  had  been  interrupted. 

2 1  do  not  wish  to  assert  that  all  unfamiliar  psychical  states  are  necessarily  evo- 
lutive or  dissolutive  in  any  assignable  manner.  I  should  prefer  to  suppose  that  there 
are  states  which  may  better  be  styled  allotropic;  —  modifications  of  the  arrangements 
of  nervous  elements  on  which  our  conscious  identity  depends,  but  with  no  more  con- 
spicuous superiority  of  the  one  state  over  the  other  than  (for  instance)  charcoal  pos- 
sesses over  graphite  or  graphite  over  charcoal.  But  there  may  also  be  states  in  which 
the  (metaphorical)  carbon  becomes  diamond;  —  with  so  much  at  least  of  advance 
on  previous  states  as  is  involved  in  the  substitution  of  the  crystalline  for  the  amorphous 
structure. 


MOTOR   AUTOMATISM  257 

inhibition,  or  mere  perturbation.  But  the  inhibition  may  involve  latent 
dynamogeny,  and  the  perturbation  may  mask  evolution.  The  hypnotised 
subject  may  pass  through  a  lethargic  stage  before  he  wakes  into  a  state  in 
which  he  has  gained  community  0}  sensation  with  the  operator;  somewhat 
as  the  silkworm  (to  use  the  oldest  and  the  most  suggestive  of  all  illustra- 
tions) passes  through  the  apparent  torpor  of  the  cocoon-stage  before  evolv- 
ing into  the  moth.  Again,  the  automatist's  hand  (as  we  shall  presently 
see)  is  apt  to  pass  through  a  stage  of  inco-ordinated  movements,  which 
might  almost  be  taken  for  choreic,  before  it  acquires  the  power  of  ready 
and  intelligent  writing.  Similarly  the  development,  for  instance,  of  a  tooth 
may  be  preceded  by  a  stage  of  indefinite  aching,  which  might  be  ascribed  to 
the  formation  of  an  abscess,  did  not  the  new  tooth  ultimately  show  itself. 
And  still  more  striking  cases  of  a  perturbation  which  masks  evolution  might 
be  drawn  from  the  history  of  the  human  organism  as  it  develops  into  its 
own  maturity,  or  prepares  for  the  appearance  of  the  fresh  human  organism 
which  is  to  succeed  it. 

Analogy,  therefore,  both  physiological  and  psychical,  warns  us  not  to 
conclude  that  any  given  psychosis  is  merely  degenerative  until  we  have 
examined  its  results  closely  enough  to  satisfy  ourselves  whether  they  tend 
to  bring  about  any  enlargement  of  human  powers,  to  open  any  new  inlet 
to  the  reception  of  objective  truth.  If  such  there  prove  to  be,  then,  with 
whatever  morbid  activities  the  psychosis  may  have  been  intertwined,  it 
contains  indications  of  an  evolutionary  nisus  as  well. 

These  remarks,  I  hope,  may  have  sufficiently  cleared  the  ground  to 
admit  of  our  starting  afresh  on  the  consideration  of  such  motor  automa- 
tisms as  are  at  any  rate  not  morbid  in  their  effect  on  the  organism,  and 
which  I  now  have  to  show  to  be  evolutive  in  character.  I  maintain  that 
we  have  no  valid  ground  for  assuming  that  the  movements  which  are  not 
due  to  our  conscious  will  must  be  less  important,  and  less  significant, 
than  those  that  are.  We  observe,  of  course,  that  in  the  organic  region 
the  movements  which  are  not  due  to  conscious  will  are  really  the  most 
important  of  all,  though  the  voluntary  movements  by  which  a  man  seeks 
food  and  protects  himself  against  enemies  are  also  of  great  practical 
importance — he  must  first  live  and  multiply  if  he  is  to  learn  and  know. 
But  we  must  guard  against  confusing  importance  for  immediate  practical 
life  with  importance  for  science  —  on  which  even  practical  life  ultimately 
depends.  As  soon  as  the  task  of  living  and  multiplying  is  no  longer  all- 
engrossing,  we  begin  to  change  our  relative  estimate  of  values,  and  to  find 
that  it  is  not  the  broad  and  obvious  phenomena,  but  the  residual  and 
elusive  phenomena,  which  are  oftenest  likely  to  introduce  us  to  new 


258  CHAPTER  VIII 

avenues  of  knowledge.    I  wish  to  persuade  my  readers  that  this  is  quite 
as  truly  the  case  in  psychology  as  in  physics. 

As  a  first  step  in  our  analysis,  we  may  point  out  certain  main  charac- 
ters which  unite  in  a  true  class  all  the  automatisms  which  we  are  here 
considering  —  greatly  though  these  may  differ  among  themselves  in 
external  form. 

In  the  first  place,  then,  our  automatisms  are  independent  phenomena; 
they  are  what  the  physician  calls  idiognomonic.  That  is  to  say,  they  are 
not  merely  symptomatic  of  some  other  affection,  or  incidental  to  some  pro- 
founder  change.  The  mere  fact,  for  instance,  that  a  man  writes  messages 
which  he  does  not  consciously  originate  will  not,  when  taken  alone,  prove 
anything  beyond  this  fact  itself  as  to  the  writer's  condition.  He  may  be 
perfectly  sane,  in  normal  health,  and  with  nothing  unusual  observable 
about  him.  This  characteristic  —  provable  by  actual  observation  and 
experiment  —  distinguishes  our  automatisms  from  various  seemingly 
kindred  phenomena.  Thus  we  may  have  to  include  in  our  class  the  occa- 
sional automatic  utterance  of  words  or  sentences.  But  the  continuous 
exhausting  vociferation  of  acute  mania  does  not  fall  within  our  province; 
for  those  shouts  are  merely  symptomatic;  nor,  again,  does  the  cri  hydro- 
cephalique  (or  spontaneous  meaningless  noise  which  sometimes  accom- 
panies water  on  the  brain);  for  that,  too,  is  no  independent  phenomenon, 
but  the  direct  consequence  of  a  definite  lesion.  Furthermore,  we  shall 
have  to  include  in  our  class  certain  simple  movements  of  the  hands,  co- 
ordinated into  the  act  of  writing.  But  here,  also,  our  definition  will  lead 
us  to  exclude  choreic  movements,  which  are  merely  symptomatic  of  ner- 
vous malnutrition;  or  which  we  may,  if  we  choose,  call  idiopathic,  as 
constituting  an  independent  malady.  But  our  automatisms  are  not 
idiopathic  but  idiognomonic;  they  may  indeed  be  associated  with  or 
facilitated  by  certain  states  of  the  organism,  but  they  are  neither  a 
symptom  of  any  other  malady,  nor  are  they  a  malady  in  themselves. 

Agreeing,  then,  that  our  peculiar  class  consists  of  automatisms  which 
are  idiognomonic,  —  whose  existence  does  not  necessarily  imply  the  exist- 
ence of  some  profounder  affection  already  known  as  producing  them,  — 
we  have  still  to  look  for  some  more  positive  bond  of  connection  between 
them,  some  quality  common  to  all  of  them,  and  which  makes  them  worth 
our  prolonged  investigation. 

This  we  shall  find  in  the  fact  that  they  are  all  of  them  message-bearing 
or  nunciative  automatisms.  I  do  not,  of  course,  mean  that  they  all  of 
them  bring  messages  from  sources  external  to  the  automatist's  own  mind. 
In  some  cases  they  probably  do  this;  but  as  a  rule  the  so-called  messages 


MOTOR   AUTOMATISM  259 

seem  more  probably  to  originate  within  the  automatist's  own  personality. 
Why,  then,  it  may  be  asked,  do  I  call  them  messages  ?  We  do  not  usually 
speak  of  a  man  as  sending  a  message  to  himself.  The  answer  to  this  ques- 
tion involves,  as  we  shall  presently  see,  the  profoundest  conception  of 
these  automatisms  to  which  we  can  as  yet  attain.  They  present  them- 
selves to  us  as  messages  communicated  from  one  stratum  to  another  stratum 
of  the  same  personality.  Originating  in  some  deeper  zone  of  a  man's 
being,  they  float  up  into  superficial  consciousness,  as  deeds,  visions,  words, 
ready-made  and  full-blown,  without  any  accompanying  perception  of  the 
elaborative  process  which  has  made  them  what  they  are. 

Can  we  then  (we  may  next  ask)  in  any  way  predict  the  possible  range 
of  these  motor  automatisms?  Have  we  any  limit  assignable  a  priori, 
outside  which  it  would  be  useless  to  look  for  any  externalisation  of  an 
impulse  emanating  from  sub-conscious  strata  of  our  being? 

The  answer  to  this  must  be  that  no  such  limit  can  be  with  any  con- 
fidence suggested.  We  have  not  yet  learnt  with  any  distinctness  even 
how  far  the  wave  from  a  consciously-perceived  stimulus  will  spread,  or 
what  changes  its  motion  will  assume.  Still  less  can  we  predict  the  limita- 
tions which  the  resistance  of  the  organism  will  impose  on  the  radiation  of  a 
stimulus  originated  within  itself.  We  are  learning  to  consider  the  human 
organism  as  a  practically  infinite  complex  of  interacting  vibrations;  and 
each  year  adds  many  new  facts  to  our  knowledge  of  the  various  trans- 
formations which  these  vibrations  may  undergo,  and  of  the  unexpected 
artifices  by  which  we  may  learn  to  cognise  some  stimulus  which  is  not 
directly  felt. 

A  few  concrete  instances  will  make  my  meaning  plainer.  And  my 
first  example  shall  be  taken  from  those  experiments  in  muscle-reading  — 
less  correctly  termed  mind-reading  —  with  which  the  readers  of  the  Pro- 
ceedings of  the  S.P.R.  are  already  familiar.  Let  us  suppose  that  I  am  to 
hide  a  pin,  and  that  some  accomplished  muscle-reader  is  to  take  my  hand 
and  find  the  pin  by  noting  my  muscular  indications.1  I  first  hide  the  pin 
in  the  hearth-rug;  then  I  change  my  mind  and  hide  it  in  the  bookshelf. 
I  fix  my  mind  on  the  bookshelf,  but  resolve  to  make  no  guiding  move- 
ment. The  muscle-reader  takes  my  hand,  leads  me  first  to  the  rug,  then 
to  the  bookshelf,  and  finds  the  pin.  Now,  what  has  happened  in  this 
case?    What  movements  have  I  made? 

Firstly,  I  have  made  no  voluntary  movement;  and  secondly,  I  have 
made  no  conscious  involuntary  movement.  But,  thirdly,  I  have  made  an 
unconscious  involuntary  movement  which  directly  depended  on  conscious 
1  See,  for  instance.  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  i.  p.  291. 


26o  CHAPTER   VIII 

ideation.  I  strongly  thought  of  the  bookshelf,  and  when  the  bookshelf 
was  reached  in  our  vague  career  about  the  room  I  made  a  movement  — 
say  rather  a  tremor  occurred  —  in  my  hand,  which,  although  beyond  both 
my  knowledge  and  my  control,  was  enough  to  supply  to  the  muscle-reader's 
delicate  sensibility  all  the  indication  required.  All  this  is  now  admitted, 
and,  in  a  sense,  understood;  we  formulate  it  by  saying  that  my  conscious 
ideation  contained  a  motor  element;  and  that  this  motor  element,  though 
inhibited  from  any  conscious  manifestation,  did  yet  inevitably  externalise 
itself  in  a  peripheral  tremor. 

But,  fourthly,  something  more  than  this  has  clearly  taken  place.  Be- 
fore the  muscle-reader  stopped  at  the  bookshelf  he  stopped  at  the  rug.  I 
was  no  longer  consciously  thinking  of  the  rug;  but  the  idea  of  the  pin  in 
the  rug  must  still  have  been  reverberating,  so  to  say,  in  my  sub-conscious 
region;  and  this  unconscious  memory,  this  unnoted  reverberation,  revealed 
itself  in  a  peripheral  tremor  nearly  as  distinct  as  that  which  (when  the 
bookshelf  was  reached)  corresponded  to  the  strain  of  conscious  thought. 

This  tremor,  then,  was  in  a  certain  sense  a  message-bearing  automa- 
tism. It  was  the  externalisation  of  an  idea  which,  once  conscious,  had 
become  unconscious,  though  in  the  slightest  conceivable  degree  —  namely, 
by  a  mere  slight  escape  from  the  field  of  direct  attention. 

Having,  then,  considered  an  instance  where  the  automatic  message 
passes  only  between  two  closely-adjacent  strata  of  consciousness,  external- 
ising an  impulse  derived  from  an  idea  which  has  only  recently  sunk  out 
of  consciousness  and  which  could  easily  be  summoned  back  again;  —  let 
us  find  our  next  illustration  in  a  case  where  the  line  of  demarcation  between 
the  strata  of  consciousness  through  which  the  automatic  message  pierces 
is  distinct  and  impassable  by  any  effort  of  will. 

Let  us  take  a  case  of  post-hypnotic  suggestion;  —  say,  for  instance,  an 
experiment  of  Edmund  Gurney's  (see  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  iv.  p.  319). 
The  subject  had  been  trained  to  write  with  planchette,  after  he  had  been 
awakened,  the  statements  which  had  been  made  to  him  when  in  the  hyp- 
notic trance.  He  wrote  the  desired  words,  or  something  like  them,  but 
while  he  wrote  them  his  waking  self  was  entirely  unaware  of  what  his 
hand  was  writing.  Thus,  having  been  told  in  the  trance,  "It  has  begun 
snowing  again,"  he  wrote,  after  waking,  "It  begun  snowing,"  while  he 
read  aloud,  with  waking  intelligence,  from  a  book  of  stories,  and  was  quite 
unconscious  of  what  his  hand  (placed  on  a  planchette  behind  a  screen) 
was  at  the  same  time  writing. 

Here  we  have  an  automatic  message  of  traceable  origin;  a  message 
implanted  in  the  hypnotic  stratum  of  the  subject's  self,  and  cropping  up 


MOTOR   AUTOMATISM  261 

—  like   a  fault  —  in   the   waking  stratum,  —  externalised  in  automatic 
movements  which  the  waking  self  could  neither  predict  nor  guide. 

Yet  once  more.  In  the  discussion  which  will  follow  we  shall  have 
various  instances  of  the  transformation  (as  I  shall  regard  it)  of  psychical 
shock  into  definite  muscular  energy  of  apparently  a  quite  alien  kind.  Such 
transformations  of  so-called  psychical  into  physical  force  —  of  will  into 
motion  —  do  of  course  perpetually  occur  within  us. 

For  example,  I  take  a  child  to  a  circus;  he  sits  by  me  holding  my 
hand;  there  is  a  discharge  of  musketry  and  his  grip  tightens.  Now  in 
this  case  we  should  call  the  child's  tightened  grip  automatic.  But 
suppose  that,  instead  of  merely  holding  my  hand,  he  is  trying  with  all 
his  might  to  squeeze  the  dynamometer,  and  that  the  sudden  excitation 
enables  him  to  squeeze  it  harder  —  are  we  then  to  describe  that  extra 
squeeze  as  automatic?  or  as  voluntary? 

However  phrased,  it  is  the  fact  (as  amply  established  by  M.  Fere  and 
others *)  that  excitations  of  almost  any  kind  —  whether  sudden  and  start- 
ling or  agreeable  and  prolonged  —  do  tend  to  increase  the  subject's  dyna- 
mometrical  power.  In  the  first  place,  and  this  is  in  itself  an  important 
fact,  the  average  of  squeezing-power  is  found  to  be  greater  among  educated 
students  than  among  robust  labouring  men,  thus  showing  that  it  is  not  so 
much  developed  muscle  as  active  brain  which  renders  possible  a  sudden 
concentration  of  muscular  force.  But  more  than  this;  M.  Fere  finds  that 
with  himself  and  his  friends  the  mere  listening  to  an  interesting  lecture, 
or  the  mere  stress  of  thought  in  solitude,  or  still  more  the  act  of  writing  or 
of  speech,  produces  a  decided  increase  of  strength  in  the  grip,  especially 
of  the  right  hand.  The  same  effect  of  dynamogeny  is  produced  with  hyp- 
notic subjects,  by  musical  sounds,  by  coloured  light,  especially  red  light, 
and  even  by  a  hallucinatory  suggestion  of  red  light.  "All  our  sensations," 
says  M.  Fere  in  conclusion,  "are  accompanied  by  a  development  of 
potential  energy,  which  passes  into  a  kinetic  state,  and  externalises  itself 
in  motor  manifestations  which  even  so  rough  a  method  as  dynamometry 
is  able  to  observe  and  record." 

I  would  beg  the  reader  to  keep  these  words  in  mind.  We  shall  presently 
find  that  a  method  apparently  even  rougher  than  dynamographic  tracings 
may  be  able  to  interpret,  with  far  greater  delicacy,  the  automatic  tremors 
which  are  coursing  to  and  fro  within  us.  If  once  we  can  get  a  spy  into 
the  citadel  of  our  own  being,  his  rudest  signalling  will  tell  us  more  than 
our  subtlest  inferences  from  outside  of  what  is  being  planned  and  done 
within. 

1  Sensation  et  Mouvement,  par  Ch.  Fere,    Paris:  Alcan,  1887. 


262  CHAPTER   VIII 

And  now  having  to  deal  with  what  I  define  as  messages  conveyed  by 
one  stratum  in  man  to  another  stratum,  I  must  first  consider  in  what 
general  ways  human  messages  can  be  conveyed.  Writing  and  speech 
have  become  predominant  in  the  intercourse  of  civilised  men,  and  it  is 
to  writing  and  speech  that  we  look  with  most  interest  among  the  com- 
munications of  the  subliminal  self.  But  it  does  not  follow  that  the  sub- 
liminal self  will  always  have  such  complex  methods  at  its  command.  We 
have  seen  already  that  it  often  finds  it  hard  to  manage  the  delicate  co- 
ordinations of  muscular  movement  required  for  writing,  —  that  the 
attempt  at  automatic  script  ends  in  a  thump  and  a  scrawl. 

The  subliminal  self  like  the  telegraphist  begins  its  effort  with  full 
knowledge,  indeed,  of  the  alphabet,  but  with  only  weak  and  rude  com- 
mand over  our  muscular  adjustments.  It  is  therefore  a  priori  likely 
that  its  easiest  mode  of  communication  will  be  through  a  repetition  of 
simple  movements,  so  arranged  as  to  correspond  to  letters  of  the  alphabet. 

And  here,  I  think,  we  have  attained  to  a  conception  of  the  mysterious 
and  much-derided  phenomenon  of  "table- tilting"  which  enables  us  to 
correlate  it  with  known  phenomena,  and  to  start  at  least  from  an 
intelligible  basis,  and  on  a  definite  line  of  inquiry. 

A  few  words  are  needed  to  explain  what  are  the  verifiable  phenomena, 
and  the  less  verifiable  hypotheses,  connoted  by  such  words  as  "table- 
turning,"  "spirit-rapping,"  and  the  like. 

If  one  or  more  persons  of  a  special  type  —  at  present  definable  only 
by  the  question-begging  and  barbarous  term  "  mediumistic "  —  remain 
quietly  for  some  time  with  hands  in  contact  with  some  easily  movable 
object,  and  desiring  its  movement,  that  object  will  sometimes  begin  to 
move.  If,  further,  they  desire  it  to  indicate  letters  of  the  alphabet  by  its 
movements,  —  as  by  tilting  once  for  a,  twice  for  b,  etc.,  it  will  often  do  so, 
and  answers  unexpected  by  any  one  present  will  be  obtained. 

Thus"  far,  whatever  our  interpretation,  we  are  in  the  region  of  easily 
reproducible  facts,  which  many  of  my  readers  may  confirm  for  themselves 
if  they  please. 

But  beyond  the  simple  movements  —  or  table-turning  —  and  the 
intelligible  responses  —  or  table-tilting  —  both  of  which  are  at  least  primd 
facie  physically  explicable  by  the  sitters'  unconscious  pressure,  without 
postulating  any  unknown  physical  force  at  all,  —  it  is  alleged  by  many 
persons  that  further  physical  phenomena  occur;  namely,  that  the  table 
moves  in  a  direction,  or  with  a  violence,  which  no  unconscious  pressure 
can  explain;  and  also  that  percussive  sounds  or  "raps"  occur,  which  no 
unconscious  action,  or  indeed  no  agency  known  to  us,  could  produce. 


MOTOR  AUTOMATISM  263 

These  raps  communicate  messages  like  the  tilts,  and  it  is  to  them  that  the 
name  of  "spirit-rapping"  is  properly  given.  But  spiritualists  generally 
draw  little  distinction  between  these  four  phenomena  —  mere  table- 
turning,  responsive  table-tilting,  movements  of  inexplicable  vehemence, 
and  responsive  raps  —  attributing  all  alike  to  the  agency  of  departed 
spirits  of  men  and  women,  or  at  any  rate  to  disembodied  intelligences 
of  some  kind  or  other. 

I  am  not  at  present  discussing  the  physical  phenomena  of  Spiritualism, 
and  I  shall  therefore  leave  on  one  side  all  the  alleged  movements  and 
noises  of  this  kind  for  which  unconscious  pressure  will  not  account. 
I  do  not  prejudge  the  question  as  to  their  real  occurrence;  but  assum- 
ing that  such  disturbances  of  the  physical  order  do  occur,  there  is  at 
least  no  primd  facie  need  to  refer  them  to  disembodied  spirits.  If  a 
table  moves  when  no  one  is  touching  it,  this  is  not  obviously  more 
likely  to  have  been  effected  by  my  deceased  grandfather  than  by 
myself.  We  cannot  tell  how  i"  could  move  it;  but  then  we  cannot 
tell  how  he  could  move  it  either.  The  question  must  be  argued  on  its 
merits  in  each  case;  and  our  present  argument  is  not  therefore  vitiated 
by  our  postponement  of  this  further  problem. 

M.  Richet1  was,  I  believe,  the  first  writer,  outside  the  Spiritualistic 
group,  who  so  much  as  showed  any  practical  knowledge  of  this  phenomenon, 
still  less  endeavoured  to  explain  it.  Faraday's  well-known  explanation  of 
table-turning  as  the  result  of  the  summation  of  many  unconscious  move- 
ments —  obviously  true  as  it  is  for  some  of  the  simplest  cases  of  table- 
movement  —  does  not  touch  this  far  more  difficult  question  of  the  origina- 
tion of  these  intelligent  messages,  conveyed  by  distinct  and  repeated  move- 
ments of  some  object  admitting  of  ready  displacement.  The  ordinary 
explanation  —  I  am  speaking,  of  course,  of  cases  where  fraud  is  not  in 
question  —  is  that  the  sitter  unconsciously  sets  going  and  stops  the  move- 
ments so  as  to  shape  the  word  in  accordance  with  his  expectation.  Now 
that  he  unconsciously  sets  going  and  stops  the  movements  is  part  of  my 
own  present  contention,  but  that  the  word  is  thereby  shaped  in  accordance 
with  his  expectation  is  often  far  indeed  from  being  the  case.  To  those 
indeed  who  are  familiar  with  automatic  written  messages,  this  question  as 
to  the  unexpectedness  of  the  tilted  messages  will  present  itself  in  a  new 
light.  If  the  written  messages  originate  in  a  source  beyond  the  automa- 
tist's  supraliminal  self,  so  too  may  the  tilted  messages;  —  even  though 
we  admit  that  the  tilts  are  caused  by  his  hand's  pressure  of  the  table  just 
as  directly  as  the  script  by  his  hand's  manipulation  of  the  pen. 

1  La  Suggestion  Mentale  (see  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  ii.  pp.  239  sqq.). 


264  CHAPTER   VIII 

One  piece  of  evidence  showing  that  written  messages  are  not  always 
the  mere  echo  of  expectation  is  a  case  *  where  anagrams  were  automatically 
written,  which  their  writer  was  not  at  once  able  to  decipher.  Following 
this  hint,  I  have  occasionally  succeeded  in  getting  anagrams  tilted  out  for 
myself  by  movements  of  a  small  table  which  I  alone  touched. 

This  is  a  kind  of  experiment  which  might  with  advantage  be  oftener 
repeated;  for  the  extreme  incoherence  and  silliness  of  the  responses  thus 
obtained  does  not  prevent  the  process  itself  from  being  in  a  high  degree 
instructive.  Here,  again  (as  in  automatic  writing),  a  man  may  hold  col- 
loquy with  his  own  dream  —  may  note  in  actual  juxtaposition  two  separate 
strata  of  his  own  intelligence. 

I  shall  not  at  present  pursue  the  discussion  of  these  tilted  responses 
beyond  this  their  very  lowest  and  most  rudimentary  stage.  They 
almost  immediately  suggest  another  problem,  for  which  our  discussion 
is  hardly  ripe,  the  participation,  namely,  of  several  minds  in  the  produc- 
tion of  the  same  automatic  message.  There  is  something  of  this  diffi- 
culty even  in  the  explanation  of  messages  given  when  the  hands  of  two 
persons  are  touching  a  planchette;  but  when  the  instrument  of  response 
is  large,  and  the  method  of  response  simple,  as  with  table-tilting,  we  find 
this  question  of  the  influence  of  more  minds  than  one  imperatively 
recurring. 

Our  immediate  object,  however,  is  rather  to  correlate  the  different 
attainable  modes  of  automatic  response  in  some  intelligible  scheme  than 
to  pursue  any  one  of  them  through  all  its  phases.  We  regarded  the  table- 
tilting  process  as  in  one  sense  the  simplest,  the  least  differentiated  form 
of  motor  response.  It  is  a  kind  of  gesture  merely,  though  a  gesture  imply- 
ing knowledge  of  the  alphabet.  Let  us  see  in  what  directions  the  move- 
ment of  response  becomes  more  specialised,  —  as  gesture  parts  into  pictorial 
art  and  articulate  speech.  We  find,  in  fact,  that  a  just  similar  divergence 
of  impulses  takes  place  in  automatic  response.  On  the  one  hand  the 
motor  impulse  specialises  itself  into  drawing;  on  the  other  hand  it  specialises 
itself  into  speech.  Of  automatic  drawing  I  have  already  said  something 
(Chapter  III.).  Automatic  speech  will  receive  detailed  treatment  in 
Chapter  IX.  At  present  I  shall  only  briefly  indicate  the  position  of  each 
form  of  movement  among  cognate  automatisms. 

Some  of  my  readers  may  have  seen  these  so-called  "  spirit-drawings," 

—  designs,  sometimes  in  colour,  whose  author  asserts  that  he  drew  them 

without  any  plan,  or  even  knowledge  of  what  his  hand  was  going  to  do. 

This  assertion  may  be  quite   true,  and  the   person  making  it  may  be 

1  See  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  ii.  pp.  226-31  [830  A]. 


MOTOR   AUTOMATISM  265 

perfectly  sane.1  The  drawings  so  made  will  be  found  curiously  accordant 
with  what  the  view  which  I  am  explaining  would  lead  us  to  expect.  For 
they  exhibit  a  fusion  of  arabesque  with  ideography;  that  is  to  say,  they 
partly  resemble  the  forms  of  ornamentation  into  which  the  artistic  hand 
strays  when,  as  it  were,  dreaming  on  the  paper  without  definite  plan;  and 
partly  they  afford  a  parallel  to  the  early  attempts  at  symbolic  self-expres- 
sion of  savages  who  have  not  yet  learnt  an  alphabet.  Like  savage  writing, 
they  pass  by  insensible  transitions  from  direct  pictorial  symbolism  to  an 
abbreviated  ideography,  mingled  in  its  turn  with  writing  of  a  fantastic  or 
of  an  ordinary  kind. 

And  here,  before  we  enter  on  the  study  of  automatic  writing,  I  must 
refer  to  two  great  historic  cases  of  automatism,  which  may  serve  as  a  kind 
of  prologue  to  what  is  to  follow.  One  case,  that  of  Socrates,  is  a  case  of 
monitory  inhibition;  the  other,  that  of  Jeanne  d'Arc,  of  monitory  impulse. 

The  Founder  of  Science  himself  —  the  permanent  type  of  sanity, 
shrewdness,  physical  robustness,  and  moral  balance  —  was  guided  in  all 
the  affairs  of  life  by  a  monitory  Voice,  —  by  "  the  Daemon  of  Socrates." 
This  is  a  case  which  can  never  lose  its  interest,  a  case  which  has  been 
vouched  for  by  the  most  practical,  and  discussed  by  the  loftiest  intellect 
of  Greece,  —  both  of  them  intimate  friends  of  the  illustrious  subject;  — 
a  case,  therefore,  which  one  who  endeavours  to  throw  new  light  on  hal- 
lucination and  automatism  is  bound,  even  at  this  distance  of  time,  to 
endeavour  to  explain.2  And  this  is  the  more  needful,  since  a  treatise 
was  actually  written,  a  generation  ago,  as  "a  specimen  of  the  application 
of  the  science  of  psychology  to  the  science  of  history,"  arguing  from  the 
records  of  the  Baifioviov  in  Xenophon  and  Plato  that  Socrates  was  in 
fact  insane.3 

I  believe  that  it  is  now  possible  to  give  a  truer  explanation;  to  place 
these  old  records  in  juxtaposition  with  more  instructive  parallels;  and  to 
show  that  the  messages  which  Socrates  received  were  only  advanced 

1  See  Mr.  Wilkinson's  book  Spirit  Drawings:  a  Personal  Narrative.  But,  of  course, 
like  other  automatic  impulses,  this  impulse  to  decorative  or  symbolical  drawing  is 
sometimes  seen  at  its  maximum  in  insane  patients.  Some  drawings  of  an  insane  pa- 
tient, reproduced  in  the  American  Journal  of  Psychology,  June  1888,  show  a  noticeable 
analogy  (in  my  view  a  predictable  analogy)  with  some  of  the  "spirit-drawings"  above 
discussed.  See  also  the  Martian  landscapes  of  Helene  Smith,  in  Professor  Flournoy's 
Des  Indes  a  la  planete  Mars. 

2  An  account  of  recorded  instances  of  Socratic  monitions  and  some  discussion 
of  them  is  given  in  the  original  edition  [§  813,  814]. 

3  Du  Demon  de  Socrate,  etc.,  by  L.  F.  Lelut,  Membre  de  l'Institut,  Nouvelle 
edition,  1856. 


266  CHAPTER   VIII 

examples  of  a  process  which,  if  supernormal,  is  not  abnormal,  and 
which  characterises  that  form  of  intelligence  which  we  describe  as 
genius. 

The  story  of  Socrates  I  take  as  a  signal  example  of  wise  automatism; 
of  the  possibility  that  the  messages  which  are  conveyed  to  the  supraliminal 
mind  from  subliminal  strata  of  the  personality,  —  whether  as  sounds,  as 
sights,  or  as  movements,  —  may  sometimes  come  from  far  beneath  the 
realm  of  dream  and  confusion,  —  from  some  self  whose  monitions  convey 
to  us  a  wisdom  profounder  than  we  know. 

Similarly  in  the  case  of  Joan  of  Arc,  I  believe  that  only  now,  with  the 
comprehension  which  we  are  gradually  gaining  of  the  possibility  of  an 
impulse  from  the  mind's  deeper  strata  which  is  so  far  from  madness  that 
it  is  wiser  than  our  sanity  itself,  —  only  now,  I  repeat,  can  we  understand 
aright  that  familiar  story. 

Joan's  condemnation  was  based  on  her  own  admissions;  and  the 
Latin  proces-verbal  still  exists,  and  was  published  from  the  MS.  by  M. 
Quicherat,  1 841-9,  for  the  French  Historical  Society.1  Joan,  like  Soc- 
rates, was  condemned  mainly  on  the  ground,  or  at  least  on  the  pretext 
of  her  monitory  voices:  and  her  Apology  remarkably  resembles  his,  in 
its  resolute  insistence  on  the  truth  of  the  very  phenomena  which  were 
being  used  to  destroy  her.  Her  answers  are  clear  and  self-consistent, 
and  seem  to  have  been  little,  if  at  all,  distorted  by  the  recorder.  Few 
pieces  of  history  so  remote  as  this  can  be  so  accurately  known. 

Fortunately  for  our  purpose,  her  inquisitors  asked  her  many  questions 
as  to  her  voices  and  visions;  and  her  answers  enable  us  to  give  a  pretty 
full  analysis  of  the  phenomena  which  concern  us. 

I.  The  voices  do  not  begin  with  the  summons  to  fight  for  France. 
Joan  heard  them  first  at  thirteen  years  of  age,  —  as  with  Socrates  also  the 
voice  began  in  childhood.  The  first  command  consisted  of  nothing  more 
surprising  than  that  "she  was  to  be  a  good  girl,  and  go  often  to  church." 
After  this  the  voice  —  as  in  the  case  of  Socrates  —  intervened  frequently, 
and  on  trivial  occasions. 

II.  The  voice  was  accompanied  at  first  by  a  light,  and  sometimes  after- 
wards by  figures  of  saints,  who  appeared  to  speak,  and  whom  Joan  appears 
to  have  both  seen  and  felt  as  clearly  as  though  they  had  been  living  persons. 
But  here  there  is  some  obscurity;  and  Michelet  thinks  that  on  one  occasion 
the  Maid  was  tricked  by  the  courtiers  for  political  ends.  For  she  asserted 
(apparently  without  contradiction)   that  several  persons,   including  the 

1  For  other  authorities  see  Mr.  Andrew  Lang's  paper  in  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  xi. 
pp.  198-212, 


MOTOR   AUTOMATISM  267 

Archbishop  of  Rheims,  as  well  as  herself,  had  seen  an  angel  bringing  to 
the  King  a  material  crown.1 

III.  The  voices  came  mainly  when  she  was  awake,  but  also  sometimes 
roused  her  from  sleep;  a  phenomenon  often  observed  in  our  cases  of 
"veridical  hallucination."  "Ipsa  dormiebat,  et  vox  excitabat  earn." 
(Quicherat,  i.,  p.  62.) 

IV.  The  voice  was  not  always  fully  intelligible  (especially  if  she  was 
half  awake) ;  —  in  this  respect  again  resembling  some  of  our  recorded 
cases,  both  visual  and  auditory,  where,  on  the  view  taken  in  Phantasms 
0}  the  Living,  the  externalisation  has  been  incomplete.  "Vox  dixit  aliqua, 
sed  non  omnia  intellexit."     (Quicherat,  iM  p.  62.) 

V.  The  predictions  of  the  voice,  so  far  as  stated,  were  mainly  fulfilled; 
viz.,  that  the  siege  of  Orleans  would  be  raised;  that  Charles  VII.  would 
be  crowned  at  Rheims;  that  she  herself  would  be  wounded;  but  the  pre- 
diction that  there  would  be  a  great  victory  over  the  English  within  seven 
years  was  not  fulfilled  in  any  exact  way,  although  the  English  continued  to 
lose  ground.  In  short,  about  so  much  was  fulfilled  as  an  ardent  self- 
devoted  mind  might  have  anticipated;  much  indeed  that  might  have  seemed 
irrational  to  ordinary  observers,  but  nothing  which  actually  needed  a 
definite  prophetic  power.  Here,  again,  we  are  reminded  of  the  general 
character  of  the  monitions  of  Socrates.  And  yet  in  Joan's  case,  more 
probably  than  in  the  case  of  Socrates,  there  may  have  been  one  singular 
exception  to  this  general  rule.  She  knew  by  monition  that  there  was  a 
sword  "retro  altare"  —  somewhere  behind  the  altar  —  in  the  Church  of 
St.  Catherine  of  Fierbois.  "Scivit  ipsum  ibi  esse  per  voces":  —  she  sent 
for  it,  nothing  doubting,  and  it  was  found  and  given  to  her.  This  was 
a  unique  incident  in  her  career.  Her  judges  asked  whether  she  had  not 
once  found  a  cup,  and  a  missing  priest,  by  help  of  similar  monitions,  but 
this  she  denied;  and  it  is  remarkable  that  no  serious  attempt  was  made 
either  to  show  that  she  had  claimed  this  clairvoyant  power  habitually,  or, 
on  the  other  hand,  to  invalidate  the  one  instance  of  it  which  she  did  in 
effect  claim.  It  would  be  absurd  to  cite  the  alleged  discovery  of  the 
sword  as  in  itself  affording  a  proof  of  clairvoyance,  any  more  than 
Socrates'  alleged  intimation  of  the  approaching  herd  of  swine.2  But 
when  we  are  considering  monitions  given  in  more  recent  times  it  will  be 
well  to  remember  that  it  is  in  this  direction  that  some  supernormal 
extension  of  knowledge  seems  possibly  traceable. 

The  cases  of  Socrates  and  of  Joan  of  Arc,  on  which  I  have  just  dwelt, 

1  On  this  point,  see  Mr.  Lang's  paper  referred  to  above. 

2  See  Plutarch's  De  genio  Socratis, 


268  CHAPTER  VIII 

might  with  almost  equal  fitness  have  been  introduced  at  certain  other  points 
of  my  discussion.  At  first  sight,  at  any  rate,  they  appear  rather  like  sen- 
sory than  like  motor  automatisms,  —  like  hallucinations  of  hearing  rather 
than  like  the  motor  impulses  which  we  are  now  about  to  study.  Each 
case,  however,  approaches  motor  automatism  in  a  special  way. 

In  the  case  of  Socrates  the  "sign"  seems  to  have  been  not  so  much  a 
definite  voice  as  a  sense  of  inhibition.  In  the  case  of  Joan  of  Arc  the  voices 
were  definite  enough,  but  they  were  accompanied  —  as  such  voices  some- 
times are,  but  sometimes  are  not  —  with  an  overmastering  impulse  to  act 
in  obedience  to  them.  These  are,  I  may  say,  palmary  cases  of  inhibition 
and  of  impulse:  and  inhibition  and  impulse  are  at  the  very  root  of  motor 
phenomena. 

They  show  moreover  the  furthest  extent  of  the  claim  that  can  be 
made  for  the  agency  of  the  subliminal  self,  apart  from  any  external 
influence,  —  apart  from  telepathy  from  the  living,  or  possession  by  the 
departed.  Each  of  those  other  hypotheses  will  claim  its  own  group  of 
cases;  but  we  must  not  invoke  them  until  the  resources  of  subliminal 
wisdom  are  manifestly  overtaxed. 

These  two  famous  cases,  then,  have  launched  us  on  our  subject  in  the 
stress  of  a  twofold  difficulty  in  logical  arrangement.  We  cannot  always 
answer  these  primary  questions,  Is  the  subliminal  impulse  sensory  or 
motor?  is  it  originated  in  the  automatist's  own  mind,  or  in  some  mind 
external  to  him? 

In  the  first  place,  we  must  reflect  that,  if  the  subliminal  self  really  pos- 
sesses that  profound  power  over  the  organism  with  which  I  have  credited 
it,  we  may  expect  that  its  "messages"  will  sometimes  express  themseves 
in  the  form  of  deep  organic  modifications  —  of  changes  in  the  vaso-motor, 
the  circulatory,  the  respiratory  systems.  Such  phenomena  are  likely  to  be 
less  noted  or  remembered  as  coincidental,  from  their  very  indefiniteness, 
as  compared,  for  instance,  with  a  phantasmal  appearance;  but  we  have, 
nevertheless,  records  of  various  telepathic  cases  of  deep  ccenesthetic  dis- 
turbance, of  a  profound  malaise  which  must,  one  would  think,  have 
involved  some  unusual  condition  of  the  viscera.1 

In  cases,  too,  where  the  telepathic  impression  has  ultimately  assumed 
a  definite  sensory  form,  some  organic  or  emotional  phenomena  have  been 
noted,  being  perhaps  the  first  effects  of  the  telepathic  impact,  whether  from 
the  living  or  from  the  dead.2 

1  See  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  i.,  Chapter  VII,  passim. 
3  See  Proceedings  of  the  American  S.P.R.,  vol.  i.  p.  397;  Proceedings  S.P.R., 
vol.  ix.  pp.  33  and  35  [817  A,  B,  and  C]. 


MOTOR   AUTOMATISM  269 

And  here  I  may  mention  an  experience  of  Lady  de  Vesci's,  who  de- 
scribed to  me  in  conversation  a  feeling  of  malaise,  defining  itself  into  the 
urgent  need  of  definite  action  —  namely,  the  despatch  of  a  telegram  to  a 
friend  who  was  in  fact  then  dying  at  the  other  side  of  the  world.1  Such 
an  impulse  had  one  only  parallel  in  her  experience,  which  also  was 
telepathic  in  a  similar  way. 

Similar  sensory  disturbances  are  sometimes  reported  in  connection 
with  an  important  form  of  motor  automatism,  —  that  of  " dowsing"  or 
discovering  water  by  means  of  the  movement  of  a  rod  held  in  the  hands 
of  the  automatist,  —  already  treated  of  in  Appendix  V.  A. 

A  small  group  of  cases  may  naturally  be  mentioned  here.  From  two 
different  points  of  view  they  stand  for  the  most  part  at  the  entrance  of  our 
subject.  I  speak  of  motor  inhibitions,  prompted  at  first  by  subliminal 
memory,  or  by  subliminal  hyperesthesia,  but  merging  into  telsesthesia  or 
telepathy.  Inhibitions  —  sudden  arrests  or  incapacities  of  action  — 
(more  or  less  of  the  Socratic  type)  —  form  a  simple,  almost  rudimentary, 
type  of  motor  automatisms.  And  an  inhibition  —  a  sudden  check  on 
action  of  this  kind  —  will  be  a  natural  way  in  which  a  strong  but  obscure 
impression  will  work  itself  out.  Such  an  impression,  for  instance,  is  that 
of  alarm,  suggested  by  some  vague  sound  or  odour  which  is  only  sublim- 
inally  perceived.  And  thus  in  this  series  of  motor  automatisms,  just  as 
in  our  series  of  dreams,  or  in  our  series  of  sensory  automatisms,  we  find 
ourselves  beginning  with  cases  where  the  subliminal  self  merely  shows 
some  slight  extension  of  memory  or  of  sensory  perception,  —  and  thence 
pass  insensibly  to  cases  where  no  "  cryptomnesia "  will  explain  the  facts 
known  in  the  past,  and  no  hyperesthesia  will  explain  the  facts  discerned 
in  the  present. 

We  may  most  of  us  have  observed  that  if  we  perform  any  small 
action  to  which  there  are  objections,  which  we  have  once  known  but 
which  have  altogether  passed  from  our  minds,  we  are  apt  to  perform  it 
in  a  hesitating,  inefficient  way. 

Similarly  there  are  cases  where  some  sudden  muscular  impulse  or  in- 
hibition has  probably  depended  on  a  subliminal  perception  or  interpreta- 
tion of  a  sound  which  had  not  reached  the  supraliminal  attention.  For 
instance,  two  friends  walking  together  along  a  street  in  a  storm  just  evade 
by  sudden  movements  a  falling  mass  of  masonry.  Each  thinks  that  he 
has  received  some  monition  of  the  fall;  each  asserting  that  he  heard 
no  noise  whatever  to  warn  him.     Here  is  an  instance  where  subliminal 

1The  case  is  recorded  in  Journal  S.P.R.,  vol.  v.  p.  136  [817  D]. 


270  CHAPTER   VIII 

perception  may  have  been  slightly  quicker  and  more  delicate  than 
supraliminal,  and  may  have  warned  them  just  in  time. 

In  the  case  which  I  now  quote  (from  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  xi. 
p.  416)  there  may  have  been  some  subliminal  hyperesthesia  of  hearing 
which  dimly  warned  Mr.  Wyman  of  the  approach  of  the  extra  train.1 

Mr.  Wm.  H.  Wyman  writes  to  the  Editor  of  the  Arena  as  follows:  — 

Dunkirk,  N.  Y.,  June  26th,  1891. 

Some  years  ago  my  brother  was  employed  and  had  charge  as  conduc- 
tor and  engineer  of  a  working  train  on  the  Lake  Shore  and  Michigan 
Southern  Railway,  running  between  Buffalo  and  Erie,  which  passes  through 
this  city  (Dunkirk,  N.  Y.).  I  often  went  with  him  to  the  Grave  Bank, 
where  he  had  his  headquarters,  and  returned  on  his  train  with  him.  On 
one  occasion  I  was  with  him,  and  after  the  train  of  cars  was  loaded,  we 
went  together  to  the  telegraph  office  to  see  if  there  were  any  orders,  and 
to  find  out  if  the  trains  were  on  time,  as  he  had  to  keep  out  of  the  way 
of  all  regular  trains.  After  looking  over  the  train  reports  and  finding 
them  all  on  time,  we  started  for  Buffalo.  As  we  approached  near  West- 
field  Station,  running  about  12  miles  per  hour,  and  when  within  about 
one  mile  of  a  long  curve  in  the  line,  my  brother  all  of  a  sudden  shut  off 
the  steam,  and  quickly  stepping  over  to  the  fireman's  side  of  the  engine, 
he  looked  out  of  the  cab  window,  and  then  to  the  rear  of  his  train  to  see 
if  there  was  anything  the  matter  with  either.  Not  discovering  anything 
wrong,  he  stopped  and  put  on  steam,  but  almost  immediately  again  shut 
it  off  and  gave  the  signal  for  breaks  and  stopped.  After  inspecting  the 
engine  and  train  and  finding  nothing  wrong,  he  seemed  very  much  ex- 
cited, and  for  a  short  time  he  acted  as  if  he  did  not  know  where  he  was 
or  what  to  do.  I  asked  what  was  the  matter.  He  replied  that  he  did  not 
know,  when,  after  looking  at  his  watch  and  orders,  he  said  that  he  felt 
that  there  was  some  trouble  on  the  line  of  the  road.  I  suggested  that 
he  had  better  run  his  train  to  the  station  and  find  out.  He  then  ordered 
his  flagman  with  his  flag  to  go  ahead  around  the  curve,  which  was  just 
ahead  of  us,  and  he  would  follow  with  the  train.  The  flagman  started 
and  had  just  time  to  flag  an  extra  express  train,  with  the  General  Super- 
intendent and  others  on  board,  coming  full  40  [forty]  miles  per  hour.  The 
Superintendent  inquired  what  he  was  doing  there,  and  if  he  did  not  re- 
ceive orders  to  keep  out  of  the  way  of  the  extra.  My  brother  told  him  that 
he  had  not  received  orders  and  did  not  know  of  any  extra  train  coming; 
that  we  had  both  examined  the  train  reports  before  leaving  the  station. 
The  train  then  backed  to  the  station,  where  it  was  found  that  no  orders  had 
been  given.  The  train  despatcher  was  at  once  discharged  from  the  road, 
and  from  that  time  to  this  both  my  brother  and  myself  are  unable  to  ac- 
count for  his  stopping  the  train  as  he  did.  I  consider  it  quite  a  mystery,  and 
cannot  give  or  find  any  intelligent  reason  for  it.    Can  you  suggest  any  ? 

The  above  is  true  and  correct  in  every  particular. 

1  For  a  somewhat  similar  case,  possibly  due  to  hyperesthesia  of  hearing,  see  Amer- 
ican Journal  of  Psychology ,  vol.  iii.  p.  435  (September  1890). 


MOTOR   AUTOMATISM  271 

In  other  cases  again  some  subliminal  sense  of  smell  may  be  conjec- 
tured.1 

Tactile  sensibility,  too,  must  be  carefully  allowed  for.  The  sense  of 
varying  resistance  in  the  air  may  reach  in  some  seeing  persons,  as  well  as 
in  the  blind,  a  high  degree  of  acuteness.2 

But  there  are  cases  of  sudden  motor  inhibition  where  no  warning  can 
well  have  been  received  from  hyperaesthetic  sensation,  where  we  come,  as 
it  seems,  to  telaesthesia  or  to  spirit  guardianship. 

(From  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  xi.  p.  459.) 

Four  years  ago,  I  made  arrangements  with  my  nephew,  John  W. 
Parsons,  to  go  to  my  office  after  supper  to  investigate  a  case.  We  walked 
along  together,  both  fully  determined  to  go  up  into  the  office,  but  just 
as  I  stepped  upon  the  door  sill  of  the  drug  store,  in  which  my  office  was 
situated,  some  invisible  influence  stopped  me  instantly.  I  was  much 
surprised,  felt  like  I  was  almost  dazed,  the  influence  was  so  strong,  almost 
like  a  blow,  I  felt  like  I  could  not  make  another  step.  I  said  to  my  nephew, 
"  John,  I  do  not  feel  like  going  into  the  office  now;  you  go  and  read  Flint 
and  Aitken  on  the  subject."  He  went,  lighted  the  lamp,  took  off  his 
hat,  and  just  as  he  was  reaching  for  a  book  the  report  of  a  large  pistol 
was  heard.  The  ball  entered  the  window  near  where  he  was  standing, 
passed  near  to  and  over  his  head,  struck  the  wall  and  fell  to  the  floor. 
Had  I  been  standing  where  he  was,  I  would  have  been  killed,  as  I  am 
much  taller  than  he.  The  pistol  was  fired  by  a  man  who  had  an  old 
grudge  against  me,  and  had  secreted  himself  in  a  vacant  house  near  by 
to  assassinate  me. 

This  impression  was  unlike  any  that  I  ever  had  before.  All  my  former 
impressions  were  slow  in  their  development,  grew  stronger  and  stronger, 
until  the  maximum  was  reached.  I  did  not  feel  that  I  was  in  any  danger, 
and  could  not  understand  what  the  strong  impression  meant.  The  fellow 
was  drunk,  had  been  drinking  for  two  weeks.  If  my  system  had  been  in 
a  different  condition — I  had  just  eaten  supper — I  think  I  would  have  re- 
ceived along  with  the  impression  some  knowledge  of  the  character  of  the 
danger,  and  would  have  prevented  my  nephew  from  going  into  the  office. 

I  am  fully  satisfied  that  the  invisible  and  unknown  intelligence  did 
the  best  that  could  have  been  done,  under  the  circumstances,  to  save  us 
from  harm. 

D.  J.  Parsons,  M.D.,  Sweet  Springs,  Mo. 

(The  above  account  was  received  in  a  letter  from  Dr.  D.  J.  Parsons, 
dated  December  i$th,  1891.) 

1  See  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  xi.  pp.  419  and  421  [821  A]. 

2  See  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  xi,  p.  422  and  423  [§§822  and  823];  also  a  case 
given  in  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  viii.  p.  345,  where  a  lady  hurrying  up  to  the  door 
of  a  lift,  is  stopped  by  seeing  a  figure  of  a  man  standing  in  front  of  it,  and  then 
finds  that  the  door  is  open,  leaving  the  well  exposed,  so  that  she  would  probably 
have  fallen  down  it,  if  she  had  not  been  checked  by  the  apparition. 


272  CHAPTER   VIII 

Statement  of  Dr.  J.  W.  Parsons. 

About  four  years  ago  my  uncle,  Dr.  D.  J.  Parsons,  and  I  were  going 
to  supper,  when  a  man  halted  us  and  expressed  a  desire  for  medical  ad- 
vice. My  uncle  requested  him  to  call  the  next  morning,  and  as  we  walked 
along  he  said  the  case  was  a  bad  one  and  that  we  would  come  back  after 
supper  and  go  to  the  office  and  examine  the  authorities  on  the  subject. 
After  supper  we  returned,  walked  along  together  on  our  way  to  the  office, 
but  just  as  we  reached  the  door  of  the  drug  store  he  very  unexpectedly, 
to  me,  stopped  suddenly,  which  caused  me  to  stop  too;  we  stood  there 
together  a  few  seconds,  and  he  remarked  to  me  that  he  did  not  feel  like 
going  into  the  office  then,  or  words  to  that  effect,  and  told  me  to  go  and 
examine  Flint  and  Aitken.  I  went,  lit  the  lamp,  and  just  as  I  was  getting 
a  book,  a  pistol  was  fired  into  the  office,  the  ball  passing  close  to  my  head, 
struck  the  east  wall,  then  the  north,  and  fell  to  the  floor. 

This  5  th  day  of  July,  1891. 

John  W.  Parsons  [Ladonia,  Texas.] 

In  the  next  group  of  cases,  we  reach  a  class  of  massive  motor  impulses 
which  are  almost  entirely  free  from  any  sensory  admixture. 

Take  for  instance  the  case  of  Mr.  Garrison,  who  left  a  religious  meeting 
in  the  evening,  and  walked  eighteen  miles  under  the  strong  impulse  to  see 
his  mother,  and  found  her  dead.  The  account  is  given  in  the  Journal 
S.P.R.,  vol.  viii.  p.  125  [§  825]. 

In  another  case,  that  of  Major  Kobbe  (given  in  Phantasms  of  the  Living, 
vol.  i.  p.  288),  the  percipient  was  prompted  to  visit  a  distant  cemetery, 
without  any  conscious  reason,  and  there  found  his  father,  who  had,  in 
fact,  for  certain  unexpected  reasons,  sent  to  his  son,  Major  Kobbe,  a  request 
(accidentally  not  received)  to  meet  him  at  that  place  and  hour. 

In  a  third  case,  Mr.  Skirving  (see  Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  i. 
p.  285  [825  A])  was  irresistibly  compelled  to  leave  his  work  and  go 
home  —  why,  he  knew  not  —  at  the  moment  when  his  wife  was  in  fact 
calling  for  him  in  the  distress  of  a  serious  accident.  See  also  a  case  given 
in  Phantasms  0}  the  Living,  vol.  ii.  p.  377,  where  a  bricklayer  has  a 
sudden  impulse  to  run  home,  and  arrives  just  in  time  to  save  the  life 
of  his  little  boy,  who  had  set  himself  on  fire. 

This  special  sensibility  to  the  motor  element  in  an  impulse  recalls  to  us 
the  special  susceptibilities  to  different  forms  of  hallucination  or  suggestion 
shown  by  different  hypnotic  subjects.  Some  can  be  made  to  see,  some  to 
hear,  some  to  act  out  the  conception  proposed  to  them.  Dr.  Berillon  *  has 
even  shown  that  certain  subjects  who  seem  at  first  quite  refractory  to  hyp- 
no  tisation  are  nevertheless  at  once  obedient,  even  in  the  waking  state,  to 

1  Revue  de  VHypnotisme,  March  1893,  p.  268. 


MOTOR   AUTOMATISM  273 

a  motor  suggestion.  This  was  the  case  both  with  a  very  strong  man,  with 
weak  men  and  women,  and  with  at  least  one  subject  actually  suffering 
from  locomotor  ataxy.  Thus  the  loss  of  supraliminal  motor  control  over 
certain  muscular  combinations  may  actually  lead  to  motor  suggestibility 
as  regards  those  combinations;  just  as  the  loss  of  supraliminal  sensation 
in  some  anaesthetic  patch  may  lead  to  a  special  subliminal  sensitiveness  in 
the  very  directions  where  the  superficial  sensibility  has  sunk  away.  On 
the  other  hand,  a  specially  well-developed  motor  control  may  predispose 
in  a  similar  way;  —  as  for  instance,  the  subject  who  can  sing  already  is 
more  easily  made  to  sing  by  suggestion.  We  must,  then,  await  further 
observations  before  we  can  pretend  to  say  beforehand  with  which  automa- 
tist  the  messages  will  take  a  sensory,  and  with  which  a  motor  form. 

Still  less  can  we  explain  the  special  predisposition  of  each  experimenter 
to  one  or  more  of  the  common  kinds  of  motor  automatism  —  as  automatic 
speech,  automatic  writing,  table  movements,  raps,  and  so  forth.  These 
forms  of  messages  may  themselves  be  variously  combined;  and  the  con- 
tents of  a  message  of  any  one  of  these  kinds  may  be  purely  dream-like  and 
fantastic,  or  may  be  veridical  in  various  ways. 

Let  us  enumerate  the  modes  of  subliminal  motor  message  as  nearly  as 
we  can  in  order  of  their  increasing  specialisation. 

1.  We  may  place  first  the  massive  motor  impulses  (like  Mr.  Garrison's) 
which  mark  a  kind  of  transition  between  ccenesthetic  affections  and  motor 
impulses  proper.  There  was  here  no  impulse  to  special  movement  of  any 
limb;  but  an  impulse  to  reach  a  certain  place  by  ordinary  methods. 

2.  Next,  perhaps,  in  order  of  specialisation  come  the  simple  subliminal 
muscular  impulses  which  give  rise  to  table-tilting  and  similar  phenomena. 

3.  Musical  execution,  subliminally  initiated,  might  theoretically  be 
placed  next;  although  definite  evidence  of  this  is  hard  to  obtain,  since  the 
threshold  of  consciousness  with  musical  performers  is  notoriously  apt  to 
be  shifting  and  indefinite.  ("When  in  doubt,  play  with  your  fingers,  and 
not  with  your  head.") 

4.  Next  we  may  place  automatic  drawing  and  painting.  This  curious 
group  of  messages  has  but  seldom  a  telepathic  content,  and,  as  was  sug- 
gested in  Chapter  III.,  is  more  akin  to  genius  and  similar  non- telepathic 
forms  of  subliminal  faculty.1 

5.  Next  comes  automatic  writing,  on  which  much  remains  to  be  said 
in  this  chapter. 

1  When  the  automatic  drawings  have  any  telepathic  or  other  supernormal 
content,  they  are  usually  associated  with  automatic  writing.  Compare  the  case 
of  Mr.  Cameron  Grant  {Phantasms  of  the  Living,  vol.  ii.  p.  690). 


274  CHAPTER   VIII 

6.  Automatic  speech,  which  would  not  seem  to  be  per  se  a  more  de- 
veloped form  of  motor  message  than  automatic  script,  is  often  accompanied 
by  profound  changes  of  memory  or  of  personality  which  raise  the  question 
of  "inspiration"  or  "possession";  —  for  the  two  words,  however  different 
their  theological  import,  mean  much  the  same  thing  from  the  standpoint 
of  experimental  psychology. 

7.  I  must  conclude  my  list  with  a  class  of  motor  phenomena  which  I 
shall  here  merely  record  in  passing,  without  attempting  any  explanation. 
I  allude  to  raps,  and  to  those  telekinetic  movements  of  objects  whose  real 
existence  is  still  matter  of  controversy. 

Comparing  this  list  of  motor  automatisms  with  the  sensory  automatisms 
enumerated  in  Chapter  VI.,  we  shall  find  a  certain  general  tendency  running 
through  each  alike.  The  sensory  automatisms  began  with  vague  unspe- 
cialised  sensations.  They  then  passed  through  a  phase  of  definition,  of 
specialisation  on  the  lines  of  the  known  senses.  And  finally  they  reached 
a  stage  beyond  these  habitual  forms  of  specialisation:  beyond  them,  as  of 
wider  reach,  and  including  in  an  apparently  unanalysable  act  of  perception 
a  completer  truth  than  any  of  our  specialised  forms  of  perception  could  by 
itself  convey.  With  motor  messages,  too,  we  begin  with  something  of 
similar  vagueness.  They,  too,  develop  from  modifications  of  the  per- 
cipient's general  organic  condition,  or  ccenesthesia;  and  the  first  dim  tele- 
pathic impulse  apparently  hesitates  between  several  channels  of  expression. 
They  then  pass  through  various  definitely  specialised  forms;  and  finally, 
as  we  shall  see  when  automatic  script  is  considered,  they,  too,  merge  into 
an  unanalysable  act  of  cognition  in  which  the  motor  element  of  the  message 
has  disappeared.  But  these  motor  messages  point  also  in  another  even 
more  perplexing  direction.  They  lead,  as  I  have  said  above,  towards 
the  old  idea  of  possession;  —  using  the  word  simply  as  an  expression  for 
some  form  of  temporary  manifestation  of  some  veritably  distinct  and 
alien  personality  through  the  physical  organism  of  some  man  or  woman, 
as  is  well  exemplified  in  many  cases  of  automatic  writing.  In  Europe 
and  America  the  phenomenon  of  automatic  writing  first  came  into 
notice  as  an  element  in  so-called  "modern  spiritualism"  about  the 
middle  of  the  nineteenth  century;  but  the  writings  of  W.  Stainton 
Moses  —  about  1870-80  —  were  perhaps  the  first  continuous  series  of 
such  messages  which  could  be  regarded  as  worthy  of  serious  attention. 
Mr.  Moses  —  a  man  whose  statements  could  not  be  lightly  set  aside  — 
claimed  for  them  that  they  were  the  direct  utterances  of  departed  per- 
sons, some  of  them  lately  dead,  some  dead  long  ago.  However  they 
were  really  to  be  explained,  they  strongly  impressed  Edmund   Gurney 


MOTOR   AUTOMATISM  275 

and  myself  and  added  to  our  desire  to  work  at  the  subject  in  as  many 
ways  as  we  could. 

It  was  plain  that  these  writings  could  not  be  judged  aright  without  a 
wide  analysis  of  similar  scripts,  —  without  an  experimental  inquiry  into 
what  the  human  mind,  in  states  of  somnambulism  or  the  like,  could  fur- 
nish of  written  messages,  apart  from  the  main  stream  of  consciousness. 
By  his  experiments  on  writing  obtained  in  different  stages  of  hypnotic 
trance,  Gurney  acted  as  the  pioneer  of  a  long  series  of  researches  which, 
independently  set  on  foot  by  Professor  Pierre  Janet  in  France,  have  become 
of  high  psychological,  and  even  medical,  importance.  What  is  here  of 
prime  interest  is  the  indubitable  fact  that  fresh  personalities  can  be  arti- 
ficially and  temporarily  created,  which  will  write  down  matter  quite  alien 
from  the  first  personality's  character,  and  even  matter  which  the  first  per- 
sonality never  knew.  That  matter  may  consist  merely  of  reminiscences 
of  previous  periods  when  the  second  personality  has  been  in  control.  But, 
nevertheless,  if  these  writings  are  shown  to  the  primary  personality,  he 
will  absolutely  repudiate  their  authorship  —  alleging  not  only  that  he  has 
no  recollection  of  writing  them,  but  also  that  they  contain  allusions  to 
facts  which  he  never  knew.  Some  of  these  messages,  indeed,  although 
their  source  is  so  perfectly  well  defined  —  although  we  know  the  very 
moment  when  the  secondary  personality  which  wrote  them  was  called 
into  existence  —  do  certainly  look  more  alien  from  the  automatist  in  his 
normal  state  than  many  of  the  messages  which  claim  to  come  from  spirits 
of  lofty  type.  It  is  noticeable,  moreover,  that  these  manufactured  per- 
sonalities sometimes  cling  obstinately  to  their  fictitious  names,  and  refuse 
to  admit  that  they  are  in  reality  only  aspects  or  portions  of  the  automatist 
himself.  This  must  be  remembered  when  the  persistent  claim  to  some 
spiritual  identity  —  say  Napoleon  —  is  urged  as  an  argument  for  attribu- 
ting a  series  of  messages  to  that  special  person. 

What  has  now  been  said  may  suffice  as  regards  the  varieties  of  mech- 
anism —  the  different  forms  of  motor  automatism  —  which  the  messages 
employ.  I  shall  pass  on  to  consider  the  contents  of  the  messages,  and  shall 
endeavour  to  classify  them  according  to  their  apparent  sources. 

A.  In  the  first  place,  the  message  may  come  from  the  percipient's  own 
mind;  its  contents  being  supplied  from  the  resources  of  his  ordinary  mem- 
ory, or  of  his  more  extensive  subliminal  memory;  while  the  dramatisation 
of  the  message  —  its  assumption  of  some  other  mind  as  its  source  —  will 
resemble  the  dramatisations  of  dream  or  of  hypnotic  trance. 

Of  course  the  absence  of  facts  unknown  to  the  writer  is  not  in  itself  a 
proof  that  the  message  does  not  come  from  some  other  mind.     We  cannot 


276  CHAPTER   VIII 

be  sure  that  other  minds,  if  they  can  communicate,  will  always  be  at  the 
pains  to  fill  their  messages  with  evidential  facts.  But,  equally  of  course, 
a  message  devoid  of  such  facts  must  not,  on  the  strength  of  its  mere  asser- 
tions, be  claimed  as  the  product  of  any  but  the  writer's  own  mind. 

B.  Next  above  the  motor  messages  whose  content  the  automatist's  own 
mental  resources  might  supply,  we  may  place  the  messages  whose  content 
seems  to  be  derived  telepathically  from  the  mind  of  some  other  person 
still  living  on  earth;  that  person  being  either  conscious  or  unconscious 
of  transmitting  the  suggestion. 

C.  Next  comes  the  possibility  that  the  message  may  emanate  from 
some  unembodied  intelligence  of  unknown  type  —  other,  at  any  rate,  than 
the  intelligence  of  the  alleged  agent.  Under  this  heading  come  the  views 
which  ascribe  the  messages  on  the  one  hand  to  "elementaries,"  or  even 
devils,  and  on  the  other  hand  to  " guides"  or  "guardians"  of  superhuman 
goodness  and  wisdom. 

D.  Finally  we  have  the  possibility  that  the  message  may  be  derived, 
in  a  more  or  less  direct  manner,  from  the  mind  of  the  agent  —  the  de- 
parted friend  —  from  whom  the  communication  does  actually  claim  to 
come. 

My  main  effort  has  naturally  been  thus  far  directed  to  the  proof  that 
there  are  messages  which  do  not  fall  into  the  lowest  class,  A  —  in  which 
class  most  psychologists  would  still  place  them  all.  And  I  myself  —  while 
reserving  a  certain  small  portion  of  the  messages  for  my  other  classes  — 
do  not  only  admit  but  assert  that  the  great  majority  of  such  communica- 
tions represent  the  subliminal  workings  of  the  automatist's  mind  alone. 
It  does  not,  however,  follow  that  such  messages  have  for  us  no  interest  or 
novelty.  On  the  contrary,  they  form  an  instructive,  an  indispensable 
transition  from  psychological  introspection  of  the  old-fashioned  kind  to 
the  bolder  methods  on  whose  validity  I  am  anxious  to  insist.  The  mind's 
subliminal  action,  as  thus  revealed,  differs  from  the  supraliminal  in  ways 
which  no  one  anticipated,  and  which  no  one  can  explain.  There  seem  to 
be  subliminal  tendencies  setting  steadily  in  certain  obscure  directions,  and 
bearing  as  little  relation  to  the  individual  characteristics  of  the  person  to 
the  deeps  of  whose  being  we  have  somehow  penetrated  as  profound  ocean- 
currents  bear  to  waves  and  winds  on  the  surface  of  the  sea.1 

x  See  James's  Psychology,  vol.  i.  p.  394:  "One  curious  thing  about  trance  utter- 
ances is  their  generic  similarity  in  different  individuals.  ...  It  seems  exactly  as  if 
one  author  composed  more  than  half  of  the  trance  messages,  no  matter  by  whom 
they  are  uttered.  Whether  all  sub-conscious  selves  are  peculiarly  susceptible  to  a 
certain  stratum  of  the  Zeitgeist,  and  get  their  inspiration  from  it,  I  know  not."     See 


MOTOR   AUTOMATISM  277 

Another  point  also,  of  fundamental  importance,  connected  with  the 
powers  of  the  subliminal  self,  will  be  better  deferred  until  a  later  chapter. 
I  have  said  that  a  message  containing  only  facts  normally  known  to  the 
automatist  must  not,  on  the  strength  of  its  mere  assertions,  be  regarded  as 
proceeding  from  any  mind  but  his  own.  This  seems  evident;  but  the 
converse  proposition  is  not  equally  indisputable.  We  must  not  take  for 
granted  that  a  message  which  does  contain  facts  not  normally  known  to 
the  automatist  must  therefore  come  from  some  mind  other  than  his  own. 
If  the  subliminal  self  can  acquire  supernormal  knowledge  at  all,  it  may 
obtain  such  knowledge  by  means  other  than  telepathic  impressions  from 
other  minds.  It  may  assimilate  its  supernormal  nutriment  also  by  a 
directer  process  —  it  may  devour  it  not  only  cooked  but  raw.  Parallel 
with  the  possibilities  of  reception  of  such  knowledge  from  the  influence 
of  other  embodied  or  disembodied  minds  lies  the  possibility  of  its  own 
clairvoyant  perception,  or  active  absorption  of  some  kind,  of  facts  lying 
indefinitely  beyond  its  supraliminal  purview. 

Now,  as  I  have  said,  the  great  majority  of  the  nunciative  or  message- 
bearing  motor  automatisms  originate  in  the  automatist's  own  mind,  and 
do  not  involve  the  exercise  of  telepathy  or  telaesthesia,  or  any  other  super- 
normal faculty;  but  they  illustrate  in  various  ways  the  coexistence  of  the 
subliminal  with  the  supraliminal  self,  its  wider  memory,  and  its  independent 
intelligence. 

I  need  not  here  multiply  instances  of  the  simpler  and  commoner  forms 
of  this  type,  and  I  will  merely  quote  in  illustration  one  short  case  recounted 
by  Mr.  H.  Arthur  Smith  (author  of  The  Principles  of  Equity,  and  a  member 
of  the  Council  of  the  Society  for  Psychical  Research)  who  has  had  the 
patience  to  analyse  many  communications  through  "Planchette." 

(From  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  ii.  p.  233. )l  Mr.  Smith  and  his  nephew 

the  account  of  automatic  and  impressional  script,  by  Mr.  Sidney  Dean,  which  Pro- 
fessor James  goes  on  to  quote,  and  which  is  closely  parallel  to  (for  instance)  Miss 
A.'s  case,  to  be  referred  to  below,  although  the  one  series  of  messages  comes  from  the 
hand  of  a  late  member  of  Congress,  "all  his  life  a  robust  and  active  journalist, 
author,  and  man  of  affairs,"  and  the  other  from  a  young  lady  with  so  different  a 
history  and  entourage. 

1  Some  other  cases  of  Mr.  Smith's  will  be  found  in  this  volume.  See  also  Pro- 
ceedings S.P.R.,  vol.  iii.  p.  25  [§  831]  for  a  case  of  Prof.  Sidgwick's,  and  Pro- 
ceedings S.P.R.,  vol.  ii.  pp.  226-231  for  the  complex  "  Clelia "  case.  Other  cases 
of  imaginary  personalities  are  to  be  found  in  the  accounts  of  possession  which 
have  come  down  to  us  from  the  "Ages  of  Faith."  See  for  example  the  auto- 
biography of  Sceur  Jeanne  des  Anges  {Biblioteque  Diabolique  [collection  Bourneville] 
Paris,  1886). 


278 


CHAPTER   VIII 


placed  their  hands  on  the  Planchette,  and  a  purely  fantastic  name  was 
given  as  that  of  the  communicating  agency. 

Q.  "Where  did  you  live?"  A.  "Wem."  This  name  was  quite 
unknown  to  any  of  us.  I  am  sure  it  was  to  myself,  and  as  sure  of  the 
word  of  the  others  as  of  that  of  any  one  I  know. 

Q.  "Is  it  decided  who  is  to  be  Archbishop  of  Canterbury?"    A.  "Yes." 

Q.  "Who?"  A.  "Durham."  As  none  of  us  remembered  his  name, 
we  asked. 

"What  is  his  name?"  A.  "Lightfoot."  Of  course,  how  far  the 
main  statement  is  correct,  I  don't  know.  The  curiosity  at  the  time  rested 
in  the  fact  that  the  name  was  given  which  none  of  us  could  recall,  but 
was  found  to  be  right. 

Now,  this  is  just  one  of  the  cases  which  a  less  wary  observer  might 
have  brought  forward  as  evidence  of  spirit  agency.  An  identity,  it  would 
be  said,  manifested  itself,  and  gave  an  address  which  none  present  had 
ever  heard.  But  I  venture  to  say  that  there  cannot  be  any  real  proof  that 
an  educated  person  has  never  heard  of  Wem.  A  permanent  recorded 
fact,  like  the  name  of  a  town  which  is  to  be  found  (for  instance)  in  Brad- 
shaw's  Guide,  may  at  any  moment  have  been  presented  to  Mr.  Smith's 
eye,  and  have  found  a  lodgment  in  his  subliminal  memory. 

Similarly  in  the  answers  "Durham"  and  "Lightfoot"  we  are  reminded 
of  cases  where  in  a  dream  we  ask  a  question  with  vivid  curiosity,  and  are 
astonished  at  the  reply;  which  nevertheless  proceeds  from  ourselves  as 
undoubtedly  as  does  the  inquiry.     The  prediction  in  this  case  was  wrong. 

What  we  have  been  shown  is  an  independent  activity  of  the  subliminal 
self  holding  colloquies  with  the  supraliminal,  and  nothing  more.  Yet  we 
shall  find,  if  we  go  on  accumulating  instances  of  the  same  general  type, 
that  traces  of  telaesthesia  and  telepathy  begin  insensibly  to  show  themselves; 
not  at  first  with  a  distinctness  or  a  persistence  sufficient  for  actual  proof, 
but  just  in  the  same  gradual  way  in  which  indications  of  supernormal 
faculty  stole  in  amid  the  disintegration  of  split  personalities;  or  in  which 
indications  of  some  clairvoyant  outlook  stole  in  amid  the  incoherence  of 
dream.  Many  of  these  faint  indications,  valueless,  as  I  have  said,  for 
purely  evidential  purposes,  are  nevertheless  of  much  theoretical  interest, 
as  showing  how  near  is  the  subliminal  self  to  that  region  of  supernormal 
knowledge  which  for  the  supraliminal  is  so  definitely  closed.1 

Mr.  Schiller's  case  (see  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  iv.  pp.  216-224) 
[832  A]  is  a  good  example  of  these  obscure  transitions  between  normal 
and  supernormal,   and  introduces  us  to  several  phenomena  which  we 

1  For  the  description  of  a  curious  case  combining  various  motor  automatisms  in 
a  very  unusual  way,  see  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  ix.  p.  182  [§  833]. 


MOTOR   AUTOMATISM  279 

shall  afterwards  find  recurring  again  and  again  in  independent  quarters. 
Dramatisation  of  fictitious  personalities,  for  instance,  which  forms  so 
marked  a  feature  in  Professor  Flournoy's  celebrated  case  (to  be  dis- 
cussed later),  begins  in  this  series  of  experiments,  conducted  throughout 
with  a  purely  scientific  aim,  and  with  no  sort  of  belief  in  the  imaginary 
"Irktomar"  and  the  rest.  It  seems  as  though  this  "  objectivation  of 
types"  were  part  of  a  romance  which  some  inscrutable  but  childish 
humorist  was  bent  on  making  up.  The  "  cryptomnesia  "  shown  in  this 
case  through  the  reproduction  of  scraps  of  old  French  with  which  the 
automatist  had  no  conscious  acquaintance,  reached  a  point  at  which 
(as  again  in  Professor  Flournoy's  case)  one  is  almost  driven  to  suspect 
that  it  was  aided  by  some  slight  clairvoyance  on  the  part  of  the  sub- 
liminal self. 

Indeed  as  the  cases  become  increasingly  complex,  one  wonders  to 
what  extent  this  strange  manufacture  of  inward  romances  can  be 
carried.  There  is,  I  may  say,  a  great  deal  more  of  it  in  the  world 
than  is  commonly  suspected.  I  have  myself  received  so  many  cases 
of  these  dramatised  utterances  —  as  though  a  number  of  different 
spirits  were  writing  in  turn  through  some  automatist's  hand  —  that  I 
have  come  to  recognise  the  operation  of  some  law  of  dreams,  so  to  call 
it,  as  yet  but  obscurely  understood.  The  alleged  personalities  are  for 
the  most  part  not  only  unidentified,  but  purposely  unidentifiable;  they 
give  themselves  romantic  or  ludicrous  names,  and  they  are  produced 
and  disappear  as  lightly  as  puppets  on  a  mimic  stage.  The  main- 
curiosity  of  such  cases  lies  in  their  very  persistence  and  complexity; 
it  would  be  a  waste  of  space  to  quote  any  of  the  longer  ones  in  such  a 
way  as  to  do  them  justice.  And,  fortunately,  there  is  no  need  for  me  to 
give  any  of  my  own  cases;  since  a  specially  good  case  has  been  specially 
well  observed  and  reported  in  a  book  with  which  many  of  my  readers  are 
probably  already  acquainted,  —  Professor  Flournoy's  Des  Indes  a  la 
planete  Mars :  Etude  sur  un  cas  de  Somnambulisme  avec  Glossolalie  (Paris 
and  Geneva,  1900).  I  shall  here  make  some  comments  on  that  striking 
record,  which  all  students  of  these  subjects  ought  to  study  in  detail. 

It  happens,  no  doubt,  to  any  group  which  pursues  for  many  years  a 
somewhat  unfamiliar  line  of  inquiry,  that  those  of  their  points  which  are 
first  assailed  get  gradually  admitted,  so  that  as  they  become  interested  in 
new  points  they  may  scarcely  observe  what  change  has  taken  place  in  the 
reception  of  the  old.  The  reader  of  early  volumes  of  the  Proceedings 
S.P.R.  will  often  observe  this  kind  of  progress  of  opinion.  And  now  Pro- 
fessor Flournoy's  book  indicates  in  a  remarkable  way  how  things  have 


28o  CHAPTER   VIII 

moved  in  the  psychology  of  the  last  twenty  years.  The  book  —  a  model 
of  fairness  throughout  —  is  indeed,  for  the  most  part,  critically  destructive 
in  its  treatment  of  the  quasi-supernormal  phenomena  with  which  it  deals. 
But  what  a  mass  of  conceptions  a  competent  psychologist  now  takes  for 
granted  in  this  realm,  which  the  official  science  of  twenty  years  ago  would 
scarcely  stomach  our  hinting  at! 

One  important  point  may  be  noticed  at  once  as  decisively  corroborating 
a  contention  of  my  own  made  long  ago,  and  at  a  time  when  it  probably 
seemed  fantastic  to  many  readers.  Arguing  for  the  potential  continuity  of 
subliminal  mentation  (as  against  those  who  urged  that  there  were  only 
occasional  flashes  of  submerged  thought,  like  scattered  dreams),  I  said 
that  it  would  soon  be  found  needful  to  press  this  notion  of  a  continuous 
subliminal  self  to  the  utmost,  if  we  were  not  prepared  to  admit  a  continuous 
spiritual  guidance  or  possession.  Now,  in  fact,  with  Professor  Flournoy?s 
subject  the  whole  discussion  turns  on  this  very  point.  There  is  unques- 
tionably a  continuous  and  complex  series  of  thoughts  and  feelings  going 
on  beneath  the  threshold  of  consciousness  of  Mile.  "Helene  Smith."  Is 
this  submerged  mentation  due  in  any  degree  or  in  any  manner  to  the  opera- 
tion of  spirits  other  than  Mile.  Smith's  own?  That  is  the  broad  question; 
but  it  is  complicated  here  by  a  subsidiary  question:  whether,  namely,  any 
previous  incarnations  of  Mile.  Smith's  —  other  phases  of  her  own  spiritual 
history,  now  involving  complex  relationship  with  the  past  —  have  any 
part  in  the  crowd  of  personalities  which  seem  struggling  to  express  them- 
selves through  her  quite  healthy  organism. 

Mile.  Smith,  I  should  at  once  say,  is  not,1  and  never  has  been,  a  paid 
medium.  At  the  date  of  M.  Flournoy's  book,  she  occupied  a  leading  post 
on  the  staff  of  a  large  maison  de  commerce  at  Geneva,  and  gave  seances  to 
her  friends  simply  because  she  enjoyed  the  exercise  of  her  mediumistic 
faculties,  and  was  herself  interested  in  their  explanation. 

Her  organism,  I  repeat,  is  regarded,  both  by  herself  and  by  others,  as 
a  quite  healthy  one.  Mile.  Smith,  says  Professor  Flournoy,  declares  dis- 
tinctly that  she  is  perfectly  sound  in  body  and  mind  —  in  no  way  lacking 
in  equilibrium  —  and  indignantly  repudiates  the  idea  that  there  is  any 
hurtful  anomaly  or  the  slightest  danger  in  mediumship  as  she  practises  it. 

"It  is  far  from  being  demonstrated,"  he  continues,  "that  medium- 
ship  is  a  pathological  phenomenon.  It  is  abnormal,  no  doubt,  in  the 
sense  of  being  rare,  exceptional;  but  rarity  is  not  morbidity.  The  few 
years  during  which  these  phenomena  have  been  seriously  and  scientifically 

1  For  Mile.  Smith's  later  history,  see  Professor  Flournoy's  Nouvelles  Observa- 
tions sur  un  cas  de  Somnambulisnte,  Geneva,  1902. 


MOTOR   AUTOMATISM  281 

studied  have  not  been  enough  to  allow  us  to  pronounce  on  their  true  nature. 
It  is  interesting  to  note  that  in  the  countries  where  these  studies  have  been 
pushed  the  furthest,  in  England  and  America,  the  dominant  view  among 
the  savants  who  have  gone  deepest  into  the  matter  is  not  at  all  unfavour- 
able to  mediumship;  and  that,  far  from  regarding  it  as  a  special  case  of 
hysteria,  they  see  in  it  a  faculty  superior,  advantageous,  healthy,  of  which 
hysteria  is  a  form  of  degenerescence,  a  pathological  parody,  a  morbid 
caricature." 

The  phenomena  which  this  sensitive  presents  (Helene  Smith  is  Pro- 
fessor Flournoy's  pseudonym  for  her)  cover  a  range  which  looks  at  first 
very  wide,  although  a  clearer  analysis  shows  that  these  varieties  are  more 
apparent  than  real,  and  that  self-suggestion  will  perhaps  account  for  all 
of  them. 

There  is,  to  begin  with,  every  kind  of  automatic  irruption  of  subliminal 
into  supraliminal  life.  As  Professor  Flournoy  says  (p.  45):  "  Phenomena 
of  hypermnesia,  divinations,  mysterious  findings  of  lost  objects,  happy 
inspirations,  exact  presentiments,  just  intuitions,  teleological  (purposive  or 
helpful)  automatisms,  in  short,  of  every  kind;  she  possesses  in  a  high  degree 
this  small  change  of  genius  —  which  constitutes  a  more  than  sufficient 
compensation  for  the  inconvenience  resulting  from  those  distractions  and 
moments  of  absence  of  mind  which  accompany  her  visions;  and  which, 
moreover,  generally  pass  unobserved.' ' 

At  seances  —  where  the  deeper  change  has  no  inconveniences  — ■ 
Helene  undergoes  a  sort  of  self-hypnotisation  which  produces  various 
lethargic  and  somnambulistic  states.  And  when  she  is  alone  and  safe 
from  interruption  she  has  spontaneous  visions,  during  which  there  may 
be  some  approach  to  ecstasy.  At  the  seances  she  experiences  positive 
hallucinations,  and  also  negative  hallucinations,  or  systematised  anaes- 
thesiae,  so  that,  for  instance,  she  will  cease  to  see  some  person  present, 
especially  one  who  is  to  be  the  recipient  of  messages  in  the  course  of  the 
seance.  "It  seems  as  though  a  dream-like  incoherence  presided  over 
this  preliminary  work  of  disaggregation,  in  which  the  normal  perceptions 
are  arbitrarily  split  up  or  absorbed  by  the  subconscious  personality  — 
eager  for  materials  with  which  to  compose  the  hallucinations  which  it  is 
preparing."  Then,  when  the  seance  begins,  the  main  actor  is  Helene's 
guide  Leopold  (a  pseudonym  for  Cagliostro)  who  speaks  and  writes  through 
her,  and  is,  in  fact,  either  her  leading  spirit-control  or  (much  more  probably) 
her  most  developed  form  of  secondary  personality. 

" Leopold,"  says  Professor  Flournoy  (p.  134),  "certainly  manifests  a 
very  honourable  and  amiable  side  of  Mile.  Smith's  character,  and  in  taking 


282  CHAPTER   VIII 

him  as  her  'guide'  she  has  followed  inspirations  which  are  doubtless 
among  the  highest  in  her  nature." 

The  high  moral  quality  of  these  automatic  communications,  on  which 
Professor  Flournoy  thus  insists,  is  a  phenomenon  worth  consideration. 

I  do  not  mean  that  it  is  specially  strange  in  the  case  of  Mile.  Smith. 
But  the  almost  universally  high  moral  tone  of  genuinely  automatic  utter- 
ances has  not,  I  think,  been  sufficiently  noticed  or  adequately  explained. 

In  evidential  messages  —  where  there  is  real  reason  to  believe  that 
an  identified  spirit  is  communicating  —  there  is  a  marked  and  inde- 
pendent consensus  on  such  matters  as  these  spirits  profess  themselves 
able  to  discuss. 

And  again  in  non-evidential  messages  —  in  communications  which 
probably  proceed  from  the  automatist's  subliminal  self  —  I  hold  that 
there  is  a  remarkable  and  undesigned  concordance  in  high  moral  tone, 
and  also  in  avoidance  of  certain  prevalent  tenets,  which  many  of  the 
automatists  do  supraliminally  hold  as  true.  But  I  also  insist  that  these 
subliminal  messages,  even  when  not  incoherent,  are  generally  dream-like, 
and  often  involve  tenets  which  (though  never  in  my  experience  base  or 
immoral)  are  unsupported  by  evidence,  and  are  probably  to  be  referred 
to  mere  self-suggestion. 

Prominent  among  such  tenets  is  one  which  forms  a  large  part  of  Mile. 
Smith's  communications;  namely,  the  doctrine  of  reincarnation,  or  of 
successive  lives  spent  by  each  soul  upon  this  planet. 

The  simple  fact  that  such  was  probably  the  opinion  both  of  Plato  and 
of  Virgil  shows  that  there  is  nothing  here  which  is  alien  to  the  best  reason 
or  to  the  highest  instincts  of  men.  Nor,  indeed,  is  it  easy  to  realise  any 
theory  of  the  direct  creation  of  spirits  at  such  different  stages  of  advance- 
ment as  those  which  enter  upon  the  earth  in  the  guise  of  mortal  man. 
There  must,  one  feels,  be  some  kind  of  continuity  —  some  form  of  spiritual 
Past.  "Yet  for  reincarnation  there  is  at  present  no  valid  evidence;  and 
it  must  be  my  duty  to  show  how  its  assertion  in  any  given  instance  — 
Mile.  Smith's  included  —  constitutes  in  itself  a  strong  argument  in  favour 
of  self-suggestion  rather  than  extraneous  inspiration  as  the  source  of  the 
messages  in  which  it  appears. 

Whenever  civilised  men  have  received  what  they  have  regarded  as  a 
revelation  (which  has  generally  been  somewhat  fragmentary  in  its  first 
delivery)  they  have  naturally  endeavoured  to  complete  and  systematise 
it  as  well  as  they  could.  In  so  doing  they  have  mostly  aimed  at  three 
objects:  (i)  to  understand  as  much  as  possible  of  the  secrets  of  the  universe; 
(2)  to  justify  as  far  as  possible  Heaven's  dealings  with  men;  and  (3)  to 


MOTOR   AUTOMATISM  283 

appropriate  as  far  as  possible  the  favour  or  benefit  which  the  revelation 
may  show  as  possibly  accruing  to  believers.  For  all  these  purposes  the 
doctrine  of  reincarnation  has  proved  useful  in  many  countries  and  times. 
But  in  no  case  could  it  seem  more  appropriate  than  in  this  last  revelation 
(so  to  term  it)  through  automatic  messages  and  the  like.  And  as  a  matter 
of  history,  a  certain  vigorous  preacher  of  the  new  faith,  known  under  the 
name  of  Allan  Kardec,  took  up  reincarnationist  tenets,  enforced  them  (as 
there  is  reason  to  believe)  by  strong  suggestion  upon  the  minds  of  various 
automatic  writers,  and  set  them  forth  in  dogmatic  works  which  have  had 
much  influence,  especially  among  Latin  nations,  from  their  clarity,  sym- 
metry, and  intrinsic  reasonableness.  Yet  the  data  thus  collected  were 
absolutely  insufficient,  and  the  Livre  des  Esprits  must  simply  rank  as  the 
premature  formulation  of  a  new  religion  —  the  premature  systematisation 
of  a  nascent  science. 

I  follow  Professor  Flournoy  in  believing  that  the  teaching  of  that  work 
must  have  directly  or  indirectly  influenced  the  mind  of  Mile.  Smith,  and 
is  therefore  responsible  for  her  claim  to  these  incarnations  previous  to  that 
which  she  now  undergoes  or  enjoys. 

On  the  general  scheme  here  followed,  each  incarnation,  if  the  last  has 
been  used  aright,  ought  to  represent  some  advance  in  the  scale  of  being. 
If  one  earth-life  has  been  misused,  the  next  earth-life  ought  to  afford  op- 
portunity for  expiation  —  or  for  further  practice  in  the  special  virtue  which 
has  been  imperfectly  acquired.  Thus  Mile.  Smith's  present  life  in  a  humble 
position  may  be  thought  to  atone  for  her  overmuch  pride  in  her  last  incar- 
nation —  as  Marie  Antoinette. 

But  the  mention  of  Marie  Antoinette  suggests  the  risk  which  this 
theory  fosters  —  of  assuming  that  one  is  the  issue  of  a  distinguished  line 
of  spiritual  progenitors;  insomuch  that,  with  whatever  temporary  sets- 
back,  one  is  sure  in  the  end  to  find  oneself  in  a  leading  position. 

Pythagoras,  indeed,  was  content  with  the  secondary  hero  Euphorbus 
as  his  bygone  self.  But  in  our  days  Dr.  Anna  Kingsford  and  Mr.  Edward 
Maitland  must  needs  have  been  the  Virgin  Mary  and  St.  John  the  Divine. 
And  Victor  Hugo,  who  was  naturally  well  to  the  front  in  these  self-multi- 
plications, took  possession  of  most  of  the  leading  personages  of  antiquity 
whom  he  could  manage  to  string  together  in  chronological  sequence.  It 
is  obvious  that  any  number  of  re-born  souls  can  play  at  this  game;  but 
where  no  one  adduces  any  evidence  it  seems  hardly  worth  while  to  go  on. 
Even  Pythagoras  does  not  appear  to  have  adduced  any  evidence  beyond 
his  ipse  dixit  for  his  assertion  that  the  alleged  shield  of  Euphorbus  had  in 
reality  been  borne  by  that  mythical  hero.     Meantime  the  question  as  to 


284 


CHAPTER   VIII 


reincarnation  has  actually  been  put  to  a  very  few  spirits  who  have  given 
some  real  evidence  of  their  identity.  So  far  as  I  know,  no  one  of  these 
has  claimed  to  know  anything  personally  of  such  an  incident;  although 
all  have  united  in  saying  that  their  knowledge  was  too  limited  to  allow 
them  to  generalise  on  the  matter. 

Helene's  controls  and  previous  incarnations  —  to  return  to  our  subject 
—  do  perhaps  suffer  from  the  general  fault  of  aiming  too  high.  She  has 
to  her  credit  a  control  from  the  planet  Mars;  one  pre-incarnation  as  an 
Indian  Princess ;  and  a  second  (as  I  have  said)  as  Marie  Antoinette. 

In  each  case  there  are  certain  impressive  features  in  the  impersonation; 
but  in  each  case  also  careful  analysis  negatives  the  idea  that  we  can  be 
dealing  with  a  personality  really  revived  from  a  former  epoch,  or  from  a 
distant  planet;  —  and  leaves  us  inclined  to  explain  everything  by  "cryp- 
tomnesia"  (as  Professor  Flournoy  calls  submerged  memory),  and  that 
subliminal  inventiveness  of  which  we  already  know  so  much. 

The  Martian  control  was  naturally  the  most  striking  at  first  sight.  Its 
reality  was  supported  by  a  Martian  language,  written  in  a  Martian  alphabet, 
spoken  with  fluency,  and  sufficiently  interpreted  into  French  to  show  that 
such  part  of  it,  at  any  rate,  as  could  be  committed  to  writing  was  actually 
a  grammatical  and  coherent  form  of  speech. 

And  here  I  reach  an  appropriate  point  at  which  to  remark  that  this 
book  of  Professor  Flournoy's  is  not  the  first  account  which  has  been  pub- 
lished of  Mile.  Helene.  Professor  Lemaitre,  of  Geneva,  printed  two 
papers  about  her  in  the  Annates  des  Sciences  Psychiques :  first,  a  long 
article  in  the  number  for  March- April,  1897  —  then  a  reply  to  M.  Le- 
febure  in  the  number  for  May- June,  1897.  In  these  papers  he  distinctly 
claims  supernormal  powers  for  Mile.  Helene,  implying  a  belief  in  her 
genuine  possession  by  spirits,  and  even  in  her  previous  incarnations,  and  in 
the  extra-terrene  or  ostensibly  Martian  language.  I  read  these  papers 
at  the  time,  but  put  them  aside  as  inconclusive,  mainly  because  that  very 
language,  on  which  M.  Lemaitre  seemed  most  to  rely,  appeared  to  me  so 
obviously  factitious  as  to  throw  doubt  on  all  the  evidence  presented  by 
an  observer  who  could  believe  that  denizens  of  another  planet  talked  to 
each  other  in  a  language  corresponding  in  every  particular  with  simple 
French  idioms,  and  including  such  words  as  quisa  for  quel,  quise  for  quelle, 
veteche  for  voir,  vlche  for  vu;  —  the  fantastic  locutions  of  the  nursery. 
M.  Lemaitre  remarks,  as  a  proof  of  the  consistency  and  reality  of  the  extra- 
terrene  tongue,  "L'un  des  premiers  mots  que  nous  ayons  eus,  metiche, 
signifiant  monsieur,  se  retrouve  plus  tard  avec  le  sens  de  homme."  That 
is  to  say,  having  transmogrified  monsieur  into  m&tiche,  Helene  further 


MOTOR   AUTOMATISM  285 

transmutes  les  messieurs  into  cte  metiche;  —  in  naive  imitation  of  ordinary 
French  usage.  And  this  tongue  is  supposed  to  have  sprung  up  indepen- 
dently of  all  the  influences  which  have  shaped  terrene  grammar  in  general 
or  the  French  idiom  in  particular!  And  even  after  Professor  Flournoy's 
analysis  of  this  absurdity  I  see  newspapers  speaking  of  this  Martian  lan- 
guage as  an  impressive  phenomenon!  They  seem  willing  to  believe  that 
the  evolution  of  another  planet,  if  it  has  culminated  in  conscious  life  at 
all,  can  have  culminated  in  a  conscious  life  into  which  we  could  all  of  us 
enter  affably,  with  a  suitable  Ollendorff's  phrase-book  under  our  arms; 

—  "eni  cee  metiche  one  qude"  —  "ici  les  hommes  (messieurs)  sont  bons," 

—  "here  the  men  are  good";  —  and  the  rest  of  it. 

To  the  student  of  automatisms,  of  course,  all  this  irresistibly  suggests 
the  automatist's  own  subliminal  handiwork.  It  is  a  case  of  "glossolaly," 
or  "speaking  with  tongues";  and  we  have  no  modern  case — no  case  later 
than  the  half -mythical  Miracles  of  the  Cevennes — where  such  utterance 
has  proved  to  be  other  than  gibberish.  I  have  had  various  automatic 
hieroglyphics  shown  to  me,  with  the  suggestion  that  they  may  be  cursive 
Japanese,  or  perhaps  an  old  dialect  of  Northern  China;  but  I  confess  that 
I  have  grown  tired  of  showing  these  fragments  to  the  irresponsive  expert, 
who  suggests  that  they  may  also  be  vague  reminiscences  of  the  scrolls  in 
an  Oriental  tea-tray. 

It  seems  indeed  to  be  a  most  difficult  thing  to  get  telepathically  into 
any  brain  even  fragments  of  a  language  which  it  has  not  learnt.  A  few 
simple  Italian,  and  even  Hawaiian,  words  occur  in  Mrs.  Piper's  utter- 
ances, coming  apparently  from  departed  spirits  (Proceedings  S.P.R., 
vol.  xiii.  pp.  337  and  384  [960  A  and  §  961] ),  but  these,  with  some 
Kaffir  and  Chinese  words  given  through  Miss  Browne  (Proceedings  S.P.R., 
vol.  ix.  pp.  124-127  [871  A]),  form,  I  think,  almost  the  only  instances 
which  I  know.  And,  speaking  generally,  whatever  is  elaborate,  finished, 
pretentious,  is  likely  to  be  of  subliminal  facture;  while  only  things  scrappy, 
perplexed,  and  tentative,  have  floated  to  us  veritably  from  afar. 

I  need  not  here  go  into  the  details  of  the  Hindow  preincarnation  or 
of  the  more  modern  and  accessible  characterisation  of  Marie  Antoinette, 
but  will  pass  on  to  certain  minor,  but  interesting  phenomena,  which 
Professor  Flournoy  calls  teleological  automatisms.  These  are  small  acts 
of  helpfulness  —  beneficent  synergies,  as  we  might  term  them,  in  contrast 
with  the  injurious  synergies,  or  combined  groups  of  hurtful  actions,  with 
which  hysteria  has  made  us  familiar.1 

1  We  have  already  printed  several  incidents  of  this  type  in  our  Proceedings  and 
Journal.     (See,  for  instance,  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  viii.  p.  344  [818  A].) 


286  CHAPTER   VIII 

"One  day,"  says  Professor  Flournoy  (p.  35),  "Miss  Smith,  when 
desiring  to  lift  down  a  large  and  heavy  object  which  lay  on  a  high  shelf, 
was  prevented  from  doing  so  because  her  raised  arm  remained  for  some 
seconds  as  though  petrified  in  the  air  and  incapable  of  movement.  She 
took  this  as  a  warning,  and  gave  up  the  attempt.  At  a  subsequent  seance 
Leopold  stated  that  it  was  he  who  had  thus  fixed  Helene's  arm  to  prevent 
her  from  grasping  this  object,  which  was  much  too  heavy  for  her  and 
would  have  caused  her  some  accident. 

"Another  time,  a  shopman,  who  had  been  looking  in  vain  for  a  certain 
pattern,  asked  Helene  if  by  chance  she  knew  what  had  become  of  it. 
Helene  answered  mechanically  and  without  reflection  —  '  Yes,  it  has  been 
sent  to  Mr.  J.'  (a  client  of  the  house).  At  the  same  time  she  saw  before 
her  the  number  18  in  large  black  figures  a  few  feet  from  the  ground,  and 
added  instinctively,  'It  was  sent  eighteen  days  ago.'  [This  was  in  the 
highest  degree  improbable,  but  was  found  to  be  absolutely  correct.]  Leo- 
pold had  no  recollection  of  this,  and  does  not  seem  to  have  been  the 
author  of  this  cryptomnesic  automatism." 

A  similar  phenomenon  has  also  been  noted  (p.  87)  when  warning 
is  conveyed  by  an  actual  phantasmal  figure.  Mile.  Smith  has  seen  an 
apparition  of  Leopold,  barring  a  particular  road,  under  circumstances 
which  make  it  probable  that  Mile.  Smith  would  on  that  day  have  had 
cause  to  regret  taking  that  route. 

This  case  of  Professor  Flournoy's,  then  —  this  classical  case,  as  it 
may  already  be  fairly  termed  —  may  serve  here  as  our  culminant  example 
of  the  free  scope  and  dominant  activity  of  the  unassisted  subliminal  self. 
The  telepathic  element  in  this  case,  if  it  exists,  is  relatively  small;  what 
we  are  watching  in  Mile.  Helene  Smith  resembles,  as  I  have  said,  a  kind 
of  exaggeration  of  the  submerged  constructive  faculty,  —  a  hypertrophy 
of  genius  —  without  the  innate  originality  of  mind  which  made  even  the 
dreams  of  R.  L.  Stevenson  a  source  of  pleasure  to  thousands  of  readers. 

In  reference  to  the  main  purpose  of  this  work,  such  cases  as  these, 
however  curious,  can  be  only  introductory  to  automatisms  of  deeper 
moment.  In  our  attempt  to  trace  an  evolutive  series  of  phenomena  in- 
dicating ever  higher  human  faculty,  the  smallest  telepathic  incident, 
—  the  most  trivial  proof,  if  proof  it  be,  of  communication  received  without 
sensory  intermediation  from  either  an  incarnate  or  a  discarnate  mind 
outweighs  in  importance  the  most  complex  ramifications  and  burgeonings 
of  the  automatisms  own  submerged  intelligence. 

I  pass  on,  then,  to  evidence  which  points,  through  motor  automatisms, 
to  supernormal  faculty;  and  I  shall  begin  by  referring  the  reader  to 


MOTOR   AUTOMATISM  287 

certain  experiments  (due  to  Professor  Richet)  in  the  simplest  of  all 
forms  of  motor  automatism,  viz.,  table-tilting,  with  results  which  only 
telepathy  can  explain.     (See  Appendix  VIII.  A.) 

Trivial  though  they  seem,  such  experiments  may  with  a  little  care 
be  made  absolutely  conclusive.  Had  Professor  Richet 's  friends,  for  ex- 
ample, been  willing  to  prolong  this  series,  we  might  have  had  a  standing 
demonstration  of  telepathy,  reproducible  at  will.1 

And  now  I  pass  on  to  some  experiments  with  Planchette,  in  which 
an  element  of  telepathy  was  shown.  The  following  account  from  Mrs. 
Alfred  Moberly,  Tynwald,  Hythe,  Kent,  is  corroborated,  with  some 
additional  examples,  by  two  other  ladies  present  at  the  time. 

(From  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  ii.  p.  235.) 

May  gth,  1884. 

The  operators  were  placed  out  of  sight  of  the  rest  of  the  company, 
who  selected  —  in  silence  —  a  photograph,  one  of  an  albumful,  and 
fixed  their  attention  on  it.  We  —  the  operators  —  were  requested  to 
keep  our  minds  a  blank  as  far  as  possible  and  follow  the  first  involuntary 
motion  of  the  Planchette.  In  three  out  of  five  cases  it  wrote  the  name 
or  initial  or  some  word  descriptive  of  the  selected  portrait.  We  also 
obtained  the  signatures  to  letters  selected  in  the  same  manner.  We  both 
knew  perfectly  well  that  we  were  writing  —  not  the  spirits,  as  the  rest 
of  the  company  persist  to  this  day  in  believing  —  but  had  only  the  slightest 
idea  what  the  words  might  prove  to  be. 

We  have  tried  it  since,  and  generally  with  some  curious  result.  A 
crucial  test  was  offered  by  two  gentlemen  in  the  form  of  a  question  to 
which  we  couldn't  possibly  guess  the  answer.  "Where's  Toosey?"  The 
answer  came,  "In  Vauxhall  Road."  "Toosey,"  they  explained,  was 
a  pet  terrier  who  had  disappeared;  suspicion  attaching  to  a  plumber  living 
in  the  road  mentioned,  who  had  been  working  at  the  house  and  whose 
departure  coincided  with  Toosey's. 

Of  course,  in  the  case  of  the  inquiry  after  the  lost  dog,  we  may  sup- 
pose that  the  answer  given  came  from  the  questioner's  own  mind.  Mrs. 
Moberly  and  her  friends  seem  to  have  been  quite  aware  of  this;  and  were 
little  likely  to  fall  into  the  not  uncommon  error  of  asking  Planchette, 
for  instance,  what  horse  will  win  the  Derby,  and  staking,  perhaps,  some 
pecuniary  consideration  on  the  extremely  illusory  reply.2 

And  now  we  come  to  the  palmary  case  of  the  late  Rev.  P.  H.  Newn- 
ham,  Vicar  of  Maker,  Devonport,  who  was  personally  known  to  Edmund 
Gurney  and  myself,  and  was  a  man  in  all  ways  worthy  of  high  respect. 

1  A  somewhat  similar  but  less  complex  set  of  experiments  by  Mr.  G.  M.  Smith 
is  given  in  the  Journal  S.P.R.,  vol.  v.  pp.  318-320  [843  B]. 

2  For  further  cases  see  Proceedings  S.P.R.,  vol.  iii.  pp.  2  and  5  [§§  845  and  847]. 


288  CHAPTER    VIII 

The  long  series  of  communications  between  Mr.  Newnham  and  his  wife, 
which  date  back  to  1871,  and  whose  contemporaneous  written  record 
is  preserved  in  the  archives  of  the  S.P.R.,  must,  I  think,  always  retain